A survey that has been conducted by epidemiologists, virologists, and infectious disease experts has revealed that the first generation COVID19 vaccines might turn ineffective against new strains of coronavirus within a year or less. Therefore, there is a need for newly formulated COVID19 vaccines. Scientists have been saying that the vaccination effort across the world is required to defuse the threat of COVID19. They have said that it might be due to variations of the virus that are more contagious, lethal, and less vulnerable to vaccines. Such varied strains of the virus have been circulating across the world. People’ Vaccine Alliance that is a union of groups such as Amnesty International, Oxfam, and UNAIDS has carried out this survey.
It includes 77 scientists from 28 countries. Around one-third of the participants have said that a new vaccine might be needed within nine months or less. Nearly two-thirds of respondents from the survey have said that the first generation vaccines might be effective only for a year or less. As per the survey, around 88 percent of participants have said that vaccine-resistant mutants have been emerging due to constant low vaccine coverage in many countries. These respondents work in illustrious institutes such as John Hopkins, Yale, Imperial College, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the University of Edinburgh.
Dr. Gregg Gonsalves, who is an associate professor of epidemiology at Yale University, has said that new mutations of the virus emerge every day. At times, they find a forte that makes them stronger than their predecessors. He has said that these strains can spread more effectively and possibly evade immune responses to past variants. Dr. Gregg Gonsalves has said that until the whole world is vaccinated, the entire playing field is left open for more and more mutations that can lead to variants, which have the capacity to evade existing COVID19 vaccines. Experts will need booster shots to deal with these variants.
The participants of the survey have said that the currently available lot of COVID19 shots that have been approved by the governments so far are a blend of new and old technologies. They have said that companies like Pfizer- BioNtech and Moderna have used mRNA technology to develop their COVID19 vaccines. These vaccines can be modified within weeks or months. However, manufacturing glitches are always a potential issue. Health experts have said that these vaccines are not accessible to poor countries as they are highly expensive. These vaccines have arduous temperature storage constraints as well.
Rich countries like the US and UK have vaccinated nearly more than a quarter of their populations with one dose of one of these vaccines. On one hand, these countries have already procured hundreds of millions of supplies of these vaccines. On the other hand, countries such as South Africa and Thailand have not been able to obtain shots for even 1 percent of their populations. Some nations have not even started vaccinating their citizens with the first dose of the COVID19 vaccine. Experts have said that Covax, which is a global vaccine initiative coalition that aims at defying so-called vaccine nationalism, has been trying to supply vaccines to at least 27 percent of the population of low-income nations in 2021.
The survey has noted that the urgency of rich countries to inoculate their citizens is not seen worldwide. Rich countries are planning to vaccinate their adult population by this summer. The head of inequality policy at Oxfam and the chairperson of People’s Vaccine Alliance, Max Lawson has said that although Covax is trying to manage vaccines for 27 percent of populations of poor countries by the end of this year, it might not be good enough. He has been requesting the manufacturers of COVID19 vaccines to openly share the technology and intellectual property of their products to increase the production of the vaccine across the world.
Therefore, poor countries as well have a sufficient supply to vaccinate their populations. Health experts have said that COVID19 vaccine developers should keep the ambitious global goal in mind. They have said that at this time, the goal seems to be lost. The respondents of the survey have said that health officials and governments should understand that limited vaccination can be quite dangerous in the future.