Te Whanganui-a-Tara – The eradication of covid-19 could work if high vaccination happens in every country and all vaccines remain up-to-date, a landmark New Zealand research study has found.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at how the purge of covid could work. Right now, countries across the globe are fixated on vaccination.
Some are close to herd immunity, like the UK, and others are barely at four percent double-vaccinated. They are simply looking to secure vaccine supply despite a pre-ordered market and increasing prices.
The new Otago University study including Professor Michael Baker researched if it could be possible to wipe out covid globally.
Vaccine-makers are undertaking clinical trials for improved versions that can handle the Delta variant, while others run trials to see how their drug impacts children.
But so far, the global community has leaned to accepting covid as a virus that can be contained, not destroyed.
The Otago researchers said the ultimate goal of public health is to eradicate a disease or virus from populations.
According to their scoring, the team believe that covid can be eradicated more easily than polio. Polio remains a communicable disease, with available vaccines – but there has never been a cohesive global push to destroy it in the same way that countries mobilised against covid.
The data points out that some countries have already destroyed covid, using a mix of well-known and new public health measures.
This includes border control, physical distancing, mask-wearing, testing and contact tracing supported by genome sequencing – before vaccination became possible.
Successful jurisdictions have included those with vast land borders such as China, high population densities such as Hong Kong, but also island nations such as Iceland and New Zealand, although with occasional outbreaks from border control failures that have been brought under control.
The vaccine is treated suspiciously by some of every population in every country, fuelled by widely available and technical sounding misinformation about side effects.
Government-created resources may further isolate individuals who are suspicious of the vaccine and believe that eradication of covid is an excuse for surveillance.
There are high upfront costs when it comes to vaccinating a population, buying or manufacturing doses, and also creating health infrastructure.
The virus may live on in non-human animal reservoirs, but wild animal infections with covid are luckily relatively rare. When animals are infected, as seen with cats or dogs, they don’t seem to be capable of re-infecting humans.
The variants are dangerous in how transmissible they become, there is no ignoring the power of the Delta variant.
Lives continue to be lost due to variants, which is nothing to dismiss. However, the researchers said there are limits to viral evolution, so countries can expect the virus to eventually reach peak fitness and new vaccines can be formulated.
The study proposes that more exact research is necessary, by bodies like the World Health Organisation.
However, it paints a hopeful picture of what can happen when the world finds itself aligned against an illness and expends significant resources to deal with the problem.