According to the chief scientist of the World Health Organization, the entire world needs to maintain its vigilance over the next six months during which coronavirus vaccine will be rolled out because for most of the population of the world to receive the vaccines will take a considerable amount of time.
“We are going to approach the beginning of the end, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said on Wednesday. “However, there’s still a tunnel we have to go through, and the next few months are going to be very critical.”
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, there has, in recent months, been an alarming rate of growth in the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 and the total infections globally now stand above 78 million.
A number of countries including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada have approved the use of the Cvoid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech while Moderna’s vaccine has also been approved by the US.
“While we can look forward – certainly by the end of next year – to a much better picture, the next few months, I think, are going to be tough.” Swaminathan said.
A very small group of people who are most vulnerable and most at risk will initially get the protection from the vaccines against Covid-19, Swaminathan said and added that it will be months before inoculation of the rest of the population will be possible.
“It’s going to take till the end of 2021 till we start seeing some level of population immunity coming up in some countries,” she said in a television interview.
“We have to keep our guard up, we have to do all the things that we know reduce the transmission and the chances of people getting ill from this,” she said. Such caution will include public health measures and individual behavioural changes.
The recent emergence of a new variant of the virus from the United Kingdom was also discussed separately by Swaminathan. The new variant has also been found in other countries including Australia, Denmark and Italy.
Discovery of such a variant is not at all unusual since the novel coronavirus has a large number of mutations and it has separated itself from the average strain, she said.
“What’s more worrying is that it has about eight mutations in the region of the spike protein,” she added.
The virus contains spikes of proteins that get attached to receptors found on the surface of human cells in the respiratory tract, also known as the ACE2 receptor in the case of Covid-19. Scientists have discovered mutations in the protein that binds itself to receptors in the respiratory tract.
“That’s probably the reason why this virus seems to have an advantage in infecting people, it seems to be transmitting more efficiently, it seems to be infecting children who have less of these receptors,” she said.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)