The past year has started promisingly as vaccines have come into use in many countries, given first to the elderly and vulnerable, and then to the entire population. And although 2 million deaths were announced since the pandemic broke in mid-January, people in many countries began receiving the awaited injections. Despite the difficult beginnings, when production problems delayed deliveries, and the majority of the preparations reached rich countries, the number of doses administered already exceeded 100 million at the beginning of February. In the same month, the number of infections began to decline sharply, giving hope that a return to pre-pandemic normality is imminent.
However, by the end of the first half of the year, a highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus had emerged in many countries, which had quickly become the dominant strain in the world. Delta spread because too many people were left unprotected, writes the Associated Press, pointing out that some people were denied access to vaccines and others refused to take it due to widespread misinformation. The number of infections and deaths has soared. And while the increase in infections due to Delta seemed to be slowing, a new variant emerged in late November – the Omikron, possibly transferring even more easily than its predecessor.
The emergence of such a strain in South Africa has been fairly accurately predicted by experts who have been alarming for months that it is in countries with low vaccination rates and high infection rates that further dangerous variants of SARS-CoV-2 may emerge. This is because where there are more infections, there are also more replicating viruses and therefore more possibilities for new variants to evolve.
There is consensus in the scientific community that vaccines will prevent hospitalization and death for most people, but not transmission of the virus, because even those who are vaccinated and who do not show symptoms can infect. Vaccines appear to be effective in protecting against the severe course of Covid-19, but new strains will continue to emerge and the pandemic will continue unless the problem of unfair vaccine distribution around the world is resolved, as called for by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Vaccine Alliance and Vaccination (Gavi).
“Vaccine inequality gives variants a free ticket to madness, allowing them to destroy human health and the economy in every corner of the globe.”
– argued on 16 December the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres.
The rapid spread of Omicron also showed that the strategy of some wealthier nations had failed, collecting doses of vaccines or using them in what has become known as ‘vaccine diplomacy’, he said.
Despite the existence of 10 WHO-approved vaccines, more people died from Covid-19 in 2021 than in 2020, and millions of people are struggling with the long-term consequences of the disease.
58.1 percent of the global population have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to date. More than 31 million doses are administered each day. In high- and middle-income countries, more than 75% have been vaccinated with at least one dose. inhabitants, and in middle-income countries – almost 49 percent. Meanwhile, in low-income countries it is only 8.4%. people.
“This is due to the limited shipments (of vaccines) going to these countries for much of the year, as well as the soon-to-expire vaccines to be delivered there without key parts such as syringes.”
– WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed out on December 22.
Global Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Program for Developing Countries COVAX donated the first preparations in late February, delivering 600,000 jobs. doses to health professionals in Ghana. The aim of this initiative was to avoid a situation where many countries do not have fair access to vaccination but failed to meet the original goal of delivering 2 billion doses to poor countries. By the end of the year, COVAX had distributed approximately 800 million doses to the most needy countries.
Africa is in a particularly difficult situation, where less than 9% have so far been fully vaccinated. residents. According to the WHO, at this rate, the continent may not reach the 70% vaccination rate. population by August 2024 and 1.6 billion doses are needed to change that. At the same time, at least 126 countries around the world have already recommended booster doses or additional doses of vaccines, and 120 have started implementing these programs.
“Population-wide booster programs are likely to prolong the Covid-19 pandemic, rather than end it, as they target (vaccine) deliveries to countries that already have high levels of vaccination, giving the virus more opportunities to spread and mutate.”
Said the head of the WHO.
His organization has been warning for months against “vaccine nationalism”, stressing that such stance by individual states will only extend the fight against the pandemic, and that all countries should adopt a global approach to the fight against Covid-19 in their own interest.
In the last week of 2021, over a million new infections were detected every day in the world, the most since the outbreak of the pandemic, according to AFP statistics. In recent days, in many countries of the world – incl. in the USA, France, Great Britain, Italy and Spain – recorded a record daily number of new infections. The number of new infections in the world was 44 percent higher in the past week. than in the previous one.
While preliminary research suggests that Omikron causes a milder infection than previous SARS-CoV-2 strains, because of its increased infectivity, the number of those infected is increasing rapidly, putting it at risk of overloading national health systems.
Source: PAP, niezalezna.pl,