After 18 months of wondering when this will all end, it has become increasingly clear that there will never be a win-win moment for vaccines against humanity against COVID-19 variants or viruses.
big picture: Case numbers remain high, even where everyone who wants a shot has one. Countries like Australia and New Zealand that sought to contain COVID-19 completely are now learning to live with the virus.
- The world map is a checklist of different pandemic restrictions, border policies and case counts. The daily global tally of cases and deaths is around a year ago.
Question: After all, what will the “beating up” of COVID-19 really look like?
Between the lines: According to Jeremy Farrar, a leading authority on infectious diseases and director of the Wellcome Trust, it looks like denmark.
- The government there has removed all restrictions, mainly thanks to the high vaccination rate (76% of the population) and 87% of those over 12. The virus is still spreading, with one to two Danes dying every day on average. But severe cases are relatively rare.
- “This virus will be here, I think, forever,” Farrar said. “We won’t get zero deaths.”
- But with near-universal vaccination, natural immunity, and better testing and treatments (as well as ready access to booster shots and second-generation vaccines down the line), wealthy countries may reach a point where the threat is limited.
Second aspect: With low vaccination rates and high levels of migration, the US will have “a bumpy course,” Farrar said.
- Then there are countries like India, which have given a dose to nearly half their population, but there are still 700 million people to go – not to mention Afghanistan or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where hardly anyone gets the first shot.
- Australia, New Zealand and some Southeast Asian countries that have never had major outbreaks also face “a bumpy exit” because they have little natural immunity and thus, “their only way out is really I have close to 100% vaccination.”
hovering over it all Variants are at risk.
- “If you wanted to do an experiment on how to encourage this virus to go down a different route, it would be … , some countries have low natural immunity,” Farrar says.
- “We are giving this virus an evolutionary advantage, which I hope it will not exploit.”
of note: Farrar, who serves on the scientific body advising the United Kingdom’s government, thinks that countries such as the UK should offer a third dose to people who are immunocompromised or otherwise particularly vulnerable, but otherwise share doses. Let’s opt for “altruistic selfishness”. globally.
- Vaccines still serve their main purpose of preventing hospitalizations and deaths, he argues, but “domestic pressure, somewhat driven by fear, has us all to vaccinate a third time, a fourth time, a fifth time.” Will happen.”
- Farrar likens the booster dilemma to the debate on climate action.
Bottom-line: Farrar envisions a future in which, like car accidents, COVID-19 will be an unfortunate fact of life.
- It will not be possible to eliminate deaths, but it will be possible to limit them, “and that would be a compromise that society accepts.”
- Denmark seems to have reached that point. The rest of the world has a way to go.