For those eagerly awaiting the end of the COVID pandemic, don’t wait up. According to popular epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant, the COVID pandemic is not ending soon. It’s mostly because only a small population of the world is currently vaccinated against coronavirus.
End of COVID Pandemic Nowhere Near
Dr. Larry Brilliant is an epidemiologist who helped the World Health Organization eradicate smallpox. He said that the COVID-19 delta variant is “maybe the most contagious virus” ever.
As proof, the US, India, and China are struggling to contain the highly infectious variant this year. Other countries are also reporting rising cases carrying the Delta strain.
Last year, WHO recognized the seriousness of coronavirus and declared a global pandemic last March. Until now, efforts to eradicate the virus remain underway. Dr. Brilliant said that not everything is bad news.
Among the good news are that vaccines that use messenger RNA technology are holding up against the Delta variant. In addition, the vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson is also faring well. However, about 85% of the world’s population remains unvaccinated. In fact, more than 100 countries have vaccination rates of less than 5%.
Closer To Beginning Than End of COVID Pandemic
“I think we’re closer to the beginning than we are to the end [of the pandemic], and that’s not because the variant that we’re looking at right now is going to last that long,” said Brilliant. The doctor recently founded and now works as CEO of his pandemic response consultancy, Pandefense Advisory.
“Unless we vaccinate everyone in 200 plus countries, there will still be new variants,” he said. In fact, he predicted that the coronavirus will eventually transform into a “forever virus” like influenza.
His models on the COVID outbreak in San Francisco and New York predict an “inverted V-shape epidemic curve”. This implied that infections increase very quickly, but also decline rapidly. If the trend goes as predicted, it means that the delta variant spreads too quickly. As a result, it will basically run out of candidates to infect.
Delta Cases Recede in Some Countries
In the UK and India, the spread of Delta already receded from its recent highs. The UK”s Daily reported cases fell from a peak of around 47,700 cases on July 21 to around 26,000 cases last Thursday.
This is according to statistics compiled by the online database Our World in Data. Meanwhile in India, the seven-day moving average of daily reported cases has remained below 50,000 since last June. This is far below the deadly peak of more than 390,000 a day last May.
“That may mean that this is a six-month phenomenon in a country, rather than a two-year phenomenon. But I do caution people that this is the delta variant and we have not run out of Greek letters so there may be more to come,” Brilliant warned.
Low Probability of Super Variant
Brilliant also said that the chances for a super variant immune to vaccines to appear is extremely low. While it’s hard to predict this possibility, the scenario is a non-zero probability. It means it can’t be ruled out entirely.
“It’s such a catastrophic event should it occur, we have to do everything possible to prevent it. And that means to get everyone vaccinated — not just in your neighborhood, not just in your family, not just in your country but all over the world,” he said.
Watch the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health presentation on the Coronavirus Pandemic: the Delta variant surge:
Do you agree with Dr. Brilliant that the world is far from ending the COVID pandemic? Do you have an active vaccine program in your area? Do you also encourage others in your areas to get vaccinated?
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