The change could soon make existing covid vaccines ineffective: Survey

Bethany Smith delivers the COVID-19 vaccine to a public member at the Mass Vaccination Center for Anurine Bevan Health Trust on March 14, 2021 in Newbridge, Wales.

Hugh Fairclough | Getty Images

According to most pathologists, virologists, and infectious disease experts surveyed by the People’s Vaccine Coalition, mutations in the coronavirus in one year may present the current vaccine ineffectively.

A survey of 77 experts from some of the world’s leading educational institutions in 28 countries found that about a third were given a term of nine months or less. Less than 1 in 8 people said they believed the change would never make the current vaccine effective.

Two-thirds of people thought that “one year or less before the virus mutated, we first introduced first-generation vaccines ineffectively and needed a new or modified vaccine.”

The survey, released on Tuesday, was conducted by the People’s Vaccine Alliance – a coalition of more than 50 organizations, including the African Alliance, Oxfam and UNAIDS – which are campaigning for equal global access to covid vaccines.

The majority of experts – 88% – said that in many countries the possibility of resistant mutations becomes more likely due to consistently low vaccine coverage. The People’s Vaccination Coalition warns that, at the current rate of global vaccination programs, only 10% of people in the majority of poor countries will be vaccinated next year.

Shots and booster

A number of covid vaccines have been developed, tested and authorized for emergency use in the past year. The three vaccines currently used in the West – Moderna, Pfizer and Bioentech, and from AstraZeneca and Oxford University – are being developed primarily in the US, UK or EU, while China and Russia have developed their own vaccines.

Time is of the essence when it comes to life-saving vaccinations; The coronavirus epidemic has infected 127 million people worldwide and killed more than 2.7 million people. The US, Brazil, India, France, Russia and the UK have been hit the hardest, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The more contagious (and in some cases, potentially more deadly) spread of the virus in late 2020 has created a race to vaccinate as many people as possible, a highly charged phenomenon. Vaccine developers have already announced that they are developing booster shots to deal with covid variants, which have become more prevalent, especially first found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.

Where vaccines are going

Countries that have developed or manufactured shots have preferred vaccination of their own populations to varying degrees, rather than exporting doses.

Vaccine distribution has already become a source of intense stress even among people with access to millions of doses, such as in the European Union and the UK, although both sides have now said they will work towards a “win-win” settlement on supplies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has accused rich countries of “holiday stocking” to donate doses to the Colox initiative, which aims to distribute the vaccine fairly to poor countries that are rapidly lagging behind in the race to save their populations. The WHO said in January that the world was on the brink of “catastrophic moral failure” due to unfair vaccine rollouts.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance survey found that about three-quarters of the people surveyed – including experts from Johns Hopkins University, Yale, Imperial College Ledge, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Cambridge University and Cape Town University. Technical and intellectual property could increase global vaccine coverage.

“Pharmaceutical monopolies and technology sharing have been called for to increase the supply of vaccines on an immediate basis,” the alliance said.