#COVIDDispatch: Vaccine-resistant COVID variants loom
- by Barbados Today
January 17, 2022
January 17, 2022
As if there was not already enough for Barbadians to process and absorb about the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) is now warning countries that they should not be surprised at the emergence of new Coronavirus variants against which vaccines offer little protection.
Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a recent WHO press conference, that as this pandemic drags on, “it’s possible that new variants could evade our countermeasures and become fully resistant to current vaccines or past infection, necessitating vaccine adaptations”.
Here at home, president of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) Dr Lynda Williams has repeatedly emphasised this possibility as the local medical fraternity pushed for increased vaccination, particularly for those persons working on the front line and whose exposure is significant.
In one of its most recent advisories regarding the Omicron variant, BAMP’s first vice-president Dr Adanna Grandison said: “We now know that the variant can evade immunisation with two vaccine doses, but immunity is likely to be restored by a third (booster) vaccine.”
“Scientists worldwide are following this new variant closely, and several countries have reinstituted strong public health measures to deal with a rapid increase in cases,” she added.
At the same time, Grandison reiterated BAMP’s strong suggestion that all frontline workers including those in hotels, restaurants, attractions, ports of entry, healthcare, and security services, should be vaccinated and tested according to national policy and protocols.
Meanwhile, the WHO boss lamented the record levels of COVID-19 cases being confirmed in North America and Europe. These represent important source markets for tourism-dependent countries in the Caribbean, including Barbados.
“Misinformation and disinformation, often spread by a small number of people, have been a constant distraction undermining science and trust in lifesaving health tools,” he said.
“In the huge waves of cases currently seen in Europe and in many countries around the world, misinformation which has driven vaccine hesitancy is now translating to the unvaccinated disproportionately dying.”
According to Dr Tedros, if a vaccine-resistant strain of the virus emerges, manufacturers will have to make adjustments to their present vaccine shots, and this “would potentially mean a new supply shortage”.
He said it was therefore important for countries to build up supplies and possible manufacturing of vaccines before this occurs.
Despite growing global fatigue about the disease, Dr Tedros said vaccine supplies were improving from the chaos of the early months of vaccine rollouts. However, he was highly critical of rich countries whose booster shot programmes were making it harder for poor nations to obtain any vaccines.
He also warned that this growing vaccine inequity would prolong the pandemic. (IMC1)
This article appears in the January 14 edition of COVID Dispatch. Read the full publication here.
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