An Australian infectious disease physician said it would take six years for the world to be adequately vaccinated against the CCP virus, so vaccines must be shared with developing countries to avoid “more sinister” strains emerging.
Infectious diseases specialist and Australian National University lecturer Sanjaya Senanayake said about 70 countries have signed up for vaccination programmes. Presently, he estimates that the goal won’t be met in a year or two.
“At the current rate of vaccination it is estimated we won’t reach global coverage of 75 percent with vaccines for about six years,” Dr Senanayake told the National Press Club on Feb. 10.
“If we continue this global vaccine rollout while in other parts of the world infection continues unchecked, then we will see more sinister strains emerge which might have further impacts on vaccine efficacy.”
South Africa halted its rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a small-scale trial showed it gave minimal protection of merely 10 percent against the South African variant.
But paediatrician Robert Booy said the trial was based on 2,000 people and was, in effect, not a concern to Australia.
“We need better studies in larger numbers over longer periods of time,” he said. “Then we’ll have a better understanding whether this vaccine is a problem for the South African variant or not.”
Australia’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly also downplayed the reports, saying they were based on a small group of people in a study not yet peer-reviewed nor published.
“At the moment, I can absolutely say … there’s no evidence anywhere in the world AstraZeneca effectiveness against severe infection is affected by any of these variants of concern,” Kelly told reporters in Canberra last Tuesday.
Despite ambitious plans, mutant variants of CCP virus will delay the progress of vaccinating the world. Both the UK and South African variants have been spread in Australia’s hotel quarantine since Jan. 7.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack confirmed on Monday that the first shipment of Pfizer vaccines is on schedule to arrive by the end of February.
The government is also discussing the prospects of a nationwide effort in making jabs available to Australians before the end of October.