COVID-19 is resurging: How effective can vaccines be?

Summary

  • The COVID-19 virus is resurging through two new variants.
  • In Australia, the weekly fresh infections have started showing a double-digit surge.
  • Vaccines drastically reduce the impact of the new variants, according to WHO.

The COVID-19 pandemic is making its resurgence across the world with newer variants like Delta Plus and Lambda.

The last time COVID-19 made resurgence in what was now known as its second wave, the world’s second and third most populous countries – India and US, respectively – were left ravaged. The two countries now make for more than one-third of the total COVID-19 infections in the world – 65.67 million out of 188 million cases. The virus took a deadly turn in these two countries, claiming one-fourth of the world’s four million deaths. And that was when many cases remained unreported, as various reports suggest that in India, during the second wave, the numbers were grossly under-reported.

Meanwhile, the third wave has started rearing its ugly head with two more variants of the virus strain – Delta Plus and Lambda.

This has led to a new series of lockdowns across the world. However, this time around, the lockdowns are localised with focus on micro-containment zones – a strategy that was extensively used in India during the deadly second wave in April and May. In fact, in Australia as well, the Greater Sydney area has seen the lockdown extend into second week. If experts are to be believed, this lockdown is reportedly set to extend for a month. The weekly fresh infections have also started showing a double-digit surge.

However, with advent of vaccines, if experts are to be believed, the new variants have opened up the cracks in equality of vaccine distribution. “We are in the midst of a growing two-track pandemic where the haves and have-nots within and between countries are increasingly divergent in places with high vaccination coverage,” World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a presser overnight.

But how effective is a vaccine?

To believe that the vaccine will prevent the virus from attacking you is a fallacy. The virus will try to attack always, and no one is immune from the risk of getting exposed to virus. What the vaccine can do, is that it gets your body ready to fight the virus – so that you are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. The majority of these are mild or asymptomatic infections,” Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO chief scientist, said on Monday.

However, given the rate of vaccination in majority of the countries has been still low, hospitalisations due to COVID-19 are rising across the world.

How is Australia placed?

On Monday, Australia’s national politics heated up. The country’s former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Liberal Party criticised his fellow party man and current Prime Minister Scott Morrison over the vaccination policy, while heaping praises on Kevin Rudd, yet another former Prime Minister from rival Labour Party. “Thank you @MrKRudd for speaking to the Chairman of Pfizer to secure an earlier delivery of vaccines. Staggered the vaccination of Australians was apparently not important enough to warrant a call from @ScottMorrisonMP or @GregHuntMP to the Pfizer boss (sic),” he wrote on his official Twitter account.

As on date, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has advised only two types of vaccines in Australia – Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine will be prioritised for people under 60 years of age, while the AstraZeneca vaccine will be prioritised for people aged 60 years and above.

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