Global herd immunity is unreachable. A dangerous new variant “could bring the world back to square one.” In other words, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from finished. “Rather than die out, the virus will likely ping-pong back and forth across the globe for years to come.”
The vast majority of mutations do not make the virus more transmissible or deadly. But with an astronomical number of mutations happening every day across the globe, there is an ever-growing risk that some of them will result in more dangerous viruses, becoming what epidemiologists call “variants of concern.” Hyperintense outbreaks—such as the ones in New York City in March 2020, Brazil in March 2021, and India in May 2021—only increase the risk.
The world needs a new strategy to contain outbreaks, one that blends better surveillance with the smarter use of vaccines where there is higher growth of virus seen.
In May, pointing out that 75 percent of the vaccine doses had so far gone to just ten countries, the WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, rightly called the distribution a “scandalous inequity that is perpetuating the pandemic.”
Variants are an unavoidable byproduct of the pandemic’s exponential growth. More than half a million new cases of COVID-19 are reported every day. Each infected person harbors hundreds of billions of virus particles, all of which are constantly reproducing. Each round of replication of every viral particle yields an average of 30 mutations.
In a time of rising nationalism, countries need to find a way to work together to reform the global public health institutions that will be responsible for waging this long fight against COVID-19. Self-interest and nationalism don’t work when it comes to a lethal infectious disease that moves across the globe at the speed of a jet plane and spreads at an exponential pace.”
Writes Larry Brilliant, Lisa Danzig, Karen Oppenheimer, Agastya Mondal, Rick Bright, and W. Ian Lipkin in an Essay published by the Foreign Affairs Magazine.
Read Whole Essay at: Foreign Affairs Website