KT edit: Vaccines for all soon or face more virus variants

Europe that suffered the most during the early phase of the pandemic last year appears to be on the mend.

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Published: Mon 28 Jun 2021, 10:33 PM

The pandemic is still around. It’s been hard to wish it away or even jab it away from the global population. That’s because variants of interest and concern are rearing their head and vaccination drives are not keeping pace. A third wave is being predicted in India. Officials are warning people about the dangers of not adhering to Covid protocols — social distancing, hand-cleansing and sanitizing of the surroundings. Italy, meanwhile, is coming out of the crisis after 18 bruising months.

The country had lived dangerously with the coronavirus that put a huge strain on its famed health system. It’s now going mask-free and getting a breath of much needed fresh air in the summer after a decent vaccination drive that covered 50 million of its population, with 29 per cent being fully jabbed. Europe that suffered the most during the early phase of the pandemic last year appears to be on the mend, with borders slowly reopening to people from the continent who take their vacations seriously.

The belated recovery is the lone bright spot in the second summer of uncertainty as new variants of the virus like Delta and Delta Plus loom and threaten the new normal that the world was promised. Even that now seems remote with the charge of the strains coming in quick succession. On the other side of the world, in Australia, outbreaks have been reported from major cities of the country. The vaccination drive is yet to pick up steam and the island nation could be paying the price for simply cutting itself off from the rest of the world. Distance helped but some variants managed to reach its shores and has put the island comfort zone in peril.

The Asia-Pacific region is also staring at lockdowns caused by a rise in cases, while the US is striving to chart a new course with an aggressive vaccination policy that has not prevented a resurgence of the virus. What must be understood here is that vaccines cannot provide a dramatic recovery to the life we once took for granted in 2019.

They prevent infection to a large extent but the virus is smarter and is looking for an escape hatch that could make it more transmissible, though not more deadly in most cases. It’s been uneven recovery without a doubt, and the world needs a uniform vaccination policy that protects the rich and poor, young and old alike. That may be impractical at the juncture with different vaccines for different people and countries that offer varying levels of protection. Unless that balance in vaccination is reached, we will continue to have waves and outbreaks that will threaten lives and prevent progress.

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