A public health digital board warns the public of a Covid-19 variant of concern affecting the community in Bolton, northwest England on May 14, 2021 Photograph:( AFP )
World Health Organization (WHO) official claims that COVID-19 vaccines are signalling reduced efficacy against the Delta variant of coronavirus
When the COVID-19 pandemic exploded around the globe, scientists warned of dire consequences if the chain of transmission wasn’t disrupted on time. We were warned that more dangerous variants would emerge and that vaccines may lose efficacy in the face of such mutations.
Now, a World Health Organization (WHO) official claims that COVID-19 vaccines are signalling reduced efficacy against the Delta variant of coronavirus.
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Even though the current vaccines are able to offer great protection against severe illnesses and significantly cut death rates, it is a worrying trend which could leave the vaccines completely ineffective against potential highly mutated variants. Highlighting the dangers posed by a “constellation of mutations”, Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) technical lead for Covid warned against giving the virus any chance to mutate further, media reports said.
Recently, the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) mutated further to create the Delta Plus variant, cases of which are being reported in India, where the original Delta variant was also first identified.
Why we should we wary
The Delta variant is highly transmissible and is listed as a “variant of concern” by WHO. Dangers of another wave continue to lurk in the shadows. India was able to bring down its caseload only recently, and cases in the United Kingdom have also shot up to 10,000 again.
And the more the virus is allowed to spread, the higher number of mutations we can expect. In the face of this, vaccines may or not be able to keep up, which is why breaking the chain of transmission is pertinent.
Transmission can be stopped by strict compliance with precautionary measures like masks, hand hygiene and social distancing. If a majority of the world’s population is vaccinated against coronavirus, herd immunity could be reached. But with inequality in terms of access to jabs, universal vaccination seems unlikely in the near future unless developed countries dispatch life-saving jabs to developing countries on war footing.