WHO Troubled Vaccine May Not Work on New Strain
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday expressed concern that manufactured vaccines against the coronavirus disease (COVID) may not work for new variants.
A report by Agence France-Presse quoted WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge as saying that the virus “still has the upper hand on the human being.”
Kluge added that nations should be prepared for nWorldew problematic coronavirus strains, as he called on countries to expand their genomic sequencing capacity—a process that maps out the genetic code of viruses.
Kluge’s comments came after a Britain-based global leader in the field of genomic sequencing said on Thursday that the world was facing about 4,000 variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.
At present, the variants said to be spreading more quickly are the so-called British, Brazilian, and South African strains.
UK minister in charge of vaccine deployment Nadhim Zahawi said it was unlikely for the vaccines to not work against the new variants as manufacturers such as Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Oxford-AstraZeneca, among others were looking at how they can improve their vaccine and ensure that it was ready for the new strains.
The so-called British variant—also known as VUI-202012/01—has mutations including a change in the spike protein that viruses use to bind to the human ACE2 receptor. This meant that it was probably easier to catch.
“We have the largest genome sequencing industry. We have about 50 percent of the world’s genome sequencing industry and we are keeping a library of all the variants so that we are ready to respond—whether in the Autumn or beyond—to any challenge that the virus may present and produce the next vaccine,” Zahawi was quoted as saying.
Globally, data from the World Bank said that about 65 percent of jabs have been reportedly given to high-income countries.
Israel currently tops the list in terms of vaccinations per head of population, followed by the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Bahrain, the United States, and then European Union member states namely Spain, Italy and Germany.
Kluge reiterated that developed countries should show solidarity by helping poorer nations who are unable to buy vaccines.
He urged wealthy countries to share purchased doses.
In a bid to combat so-called vaccine nationalism, the WHO has set up COVAX, a global inoculation-sharing initiative to help poorer countries.
“We know that the EU, Canada, UK, US, they all ordered and made deals for four to nine times more doses than they need,” Kluge said.
Photo by Juraj Varga/from Pixabay