According to Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist on the World Health Organization (WHO .) team, that helped eradicate smallpox, the corona pandemic is far from over. “The Delta variant may be the most contagious virus ever,” he said in an interview with CNBC.
Why is this important?
The variants, and the Delta variant in particular, are encouraging more and more countries to administer a third shot of the corona vaccine to the elderly and the vulnerable. That while the WHO is asking to postpone that third shot, so that there is enough stock to fully vaccinate the rest of the world. Brilliant says both are important in the fight against the pandemic.
This summer, the corona figures will rise in many countries as a result of the Delta variant of the corona virus. Various studies have already shown that this variant is more contagious than the original version of the virus. According to a report from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Delta variant is equally contagious like the chicken pox.
“The Delta variant may be the most contagious virus ever,” Brilliant said in an interview with CNBC. “The good news is that the mRNA vaccines and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine hold up against that variant.”
“Coronavirus will not go away”
“Yet only 15 percent of the world’s population has been vaccinated and more than 100 countries have vaccinated less than 5 percent of their population,” he continued. “I think we’re closer to the beginning than the end of the pandemic, and that’s not because the variant we’re looking at is long-lived.”
“Unless we vaccinate everyone in the 200-plus countries, new variants will keep popping up,” the doctor said, predicting that the coronavirus will eventually become a “forever virus,” like the flu.
Brilliant said its models on the outbreak of the variant in San Francisco and New York predict an “inverted V-shaped epidemic curve.” “That means the infections are increasing very quickly, but they would also decrease quickly,” he explained. “If the prediction turns out to be true, it means that the Delta variant is spreading so quickly that it basically has no more candidates to infect.”
A similar pattern appears to be emerging in the UK and India, where the spread of the Delta variant has diminished from recent highs. The number of average daily infections in the UK has fallen from 47,700 cases on July 21 to around 26,000 cases on Thursday, according to statistics compiled by the online database Our World in Data. In India, that figure has fallen from 390,000 cases a day in May to less than 50,000 cases since the end of June.
“That could mean that this is a six-month phenomenon instead of a two-year phenomenon. But I’m warning people that this is the Delta variant and we haven’t run out of Greek letters yet, so there may be more to come,” said Brilliant. According to the doctor, there is little chance that sooner or later we will have to deal with a super variant that is resistant to the vaccines.
“We must of course do everything we can to avoid such a catastrophic event,” he continued. “And that means everyone around the world needs to be vaccinated.” The World Health Organization recently asked wealthier countries to administer a to postpone third shot, so that more vaccines are available for the poorer countries. Israel has already started administering a booster dose. The United Kingdom, Germany and France have indicated that they will start this in September.
According to Brilliant, it is important to give the elderly who were fully vaccinated more than six months ago a third shot. “It is in this group of people that we have found that the virus mutates in their bodies,” Brilliant said in the interview. “So those people should, I would say, get a third dose right away, a booster. At the same time, we must provide sufficient vaccines to the poorer countries so that they can vaccinate their populations. I consider those two things to be about equal.”