Current vaccines could become obsolete within a year against COVID-19 variants, according to a new report that surveyed public health experts in 28 countries, some of which are in Montreal.
According to a survey conducted by The People’s Vaccine Alliance of 77 epidemiologists around the world, the majority of experts believe that mutations in the virus would render first-generation vaccines ineffective in less than a year.
Worse still, a third of the specialists surveyed say that the vaccines will be obsolete within 9 months.
The coalition behind this report, which brings together 50 organizations like Oxfam and UNAIDS, also interviewed virologists and infectious disease specialists. The document underlines that the School of Public Health of the University of Montreal participated in this research.
Still according to the survey, nearly 88% of epidemiologists believe that the low vaccination rate in poor countries increases the risk of the appearance of variants in the world.
“It is likely that only 10% of people in the majority of poor countries will be vaccinated next year,” worries The People’s Vaccine Alliance.
DO NOT PANIC
Roxane Borgès Da Silva, professor at the School of Public Health of the University of Montreal (ESPUM), says that there are solutions to adapt vaccines to new variants.
Roxane Borgès Da Silva
Professor at ESPUM
“We have annual vaccines that are already in place as with flu shots. It is renewed every year with a new strain. All viruses mutate, that’s normal. Vaccines are made for a strain and they can then evolve, ”reassures Ms. Borgès Da Silva.
The expert says there is also positive linked to COVID-19 mutations.
“In human history all kinds of viruses have appeared. In some cases, the mutations in these turned out to be less harmful and they also disappeared. So, one should not just see a black portrait of the variants. All situations are possible, ”the ESPUM professor mentions in the Journal.
Similar finding for Gaston De Serres, epidemiologist at the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ), who recalls that the virus has no borders.
“There are very few developing countries that have access to vaccines right now. Manufacturers are already seeing how they can outsmart mutants, including the African one, but it is above all time to develop a global vaccination strategy, ”said De Serres.
According to him, no one will be safe from COVID-19 until the entire world population is vaccinated.
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