Mutations of the Coronavirus could cause vaccines ineffective within a year.
Something must be wrong on Monday when CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky went off script and made an emotional plea to Americans amid fears of a fourth wave. Speaking during a White House briefing, Dr Walensky said – “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope. But right now, I’m scared.”
Appeared to be holding back her tears, she said – “I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer. I so badly want to be done. I know you all so badly want to be done. We are just almost there, but not quite yet”. She has every reason to be emotional.
Dr Walensky recalled, as a physician treating Covid infections, her experience being the last person in the room to touch a patient’s hand “because loved ones couldn’t be there” due to risk of infection. She also recalled walking into work and seeing “extra morgue trucks” set up outside to handle the overflow of bodies. And she has every reason to be scared.
Coronavirus cases are rapidly rising – again – in places, including Michigan, New York, New Jersey and other North-eastern states, thanks to variants that are spreading. Cases of the virus are up about 10% week over week. The seven-day daily average of new cases increased 10.6% from the previous week to 59,773, while the seven-day daily average of deaths increased 2.6% to 968.
According to data from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the seven-day average of cases began to rise on March 20, 2020. But almost a year since the beginning of the Covid-19 wave, the same wave appears to be happening again this month. But unlike a year ago, where the new wave started with 15,000 new cases a day, now it would start with 60,000.
Therefore, Dr Walensky warned that without sustained contrary action the United States could follow Europe into another spike in cases and suffer another wave of deaths. The frustration comes as some governors have moved to relax restrictions designed to mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 – including lifting the mandatory wearing of masks, as more people are vaccinated.
Even though more than 93 million Americans have received at least one dose of their shots, and 51.5 million are fully vaccinated, there are millions of people – particularly younger Americans with underlying conditions – remain vulnerable. For example, Michigan saw Coronavirus hospitalizations increased by 633% for those aged 30-39 and by 800% for those aged 40-49.
The three factors contributing to the new surge of infections were identified as increased travel, a lifting of restrictions and the new variants – known as B.1.1.7 – that originated in the United Kingdom. The more contagious strain, which is 35-45% more transmissible than other strains currently in the US, is nearly doubling among confirmed cases in the US every nine days.
Even as the US administers about 2.5 million Covid-19 vaccine shots every day, it still struggles in the race between vaccinations and variants. When the CDC first warned of the new variant’s presence in the US in mid-January this year, it was detected in less than 0.5% of cases. However, by the end of the month, the figure had jumped to 3.6%.
By February, the UK variant of Coronavirus, first detected in Kent in southeast England, has been identified in over 80 countries – becoming the dominant form of the virus worldwide. Today, the world sees a surge in new cases, from Asia to Europe to Brazil to India to Africa. Brazil is recording the world’s highest daily death tolls, so much so it has its own contagious “Brazilian variant”.
Like Donald Trump, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro consistently sabotages his own country’s health restrictions. He has fired health ministers for refusing to go along with his Covid-19 denial and claimed that Brazilians might be immune to the “little flu” because they swim in sewage and nothing happens to them. Despite thousands die every day, Bolsonaro told Brazilians to “stop whining” about it.
In Germany, health officials have warned that the third wave of Coronavirus could be the worst to hit the country. Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for Infectious Diseases, said there could be as many as 100,000 new Covid-19 cases daily if the disease is not curbed. He said – “There are clear signals that this wave could become significantly worse than the first two waves.”
While cases in Europe increased by 12%, the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that it has seen a 49% increase in new cases in Southeast Asia, an 8% increase in the Eastern Mediterranean and a 29% increase in the Western Pacific region. Worldwide, new cases have increased by 8%, the fifth week in a row that the WHO has recorded an increase in transmission.
To make matters worse, mutations of the Coronavirus could cause vaccines ineffective within a year. In fact, a survey of 77 experts – epidemiologists, virologists and infectious disease specialists – across 28 countries found that almost a third gave a time frame of nine months or less. Two-thirds believed that in “a year or less”, the virus will mutate to the extent that current vaccines would be useless.
The People’s Vaccine Alliance – a coalition of over 50 organizations, including African Alliance, Oxfam and UNAIDS – warned that at the current rate of global vaccination programs, only 10% of people in the majority of poor countries would be vaccinated in the next year. Vaccine distribution has seen how wealthier nations “stockpiling” vaccines.
The EU (European Union) reportedly has ordered more than two billion doses for its adult population of roughly 375 million, while the UK has ordered 219 million full vaccinations for its 54 million adults. Similarly, Canada has ordered 188 million full doses for its 32 million adults – enough vaccines to protect each Canadian five times, clearly a case of selfish hoarding.
In short, the rich nations, despite representing just 14% of the world’s population, have bought up 53% of the vaccines. Still, those stockpiles of vaccine will not be able to save the rich nations if they continue to act as if the vaccines are some sort of holy water. Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious-disease expert, said that variant likely accounted for 20% to 30% of infections in the US.
And if the variant were to become the dominant strain in the US, or the world for that matter, health officials say “re-infections” would become more likely among those who have already had Covid-19. The pressure from travel-industry groups and airlines to lift international travel bans could also trigger new waves of variants of Coronavirus. – Finance Twitter