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Two years after the Covid-19 pandemic, do you see the end? | World News

Two years after the pandemic officially began, some countries are now trying to “live with Covid,” but scientists say potential new variants and unequal vaccination rates. It warns that it threatens the long-awaited return to normal.

Christopher Murray, a global health researcher in the United States, wrote in the Lancet Medical Journal in late January that “Covid-19 continues, but the end of the pandemic is approaching.” I have summarized my hopes.

In the weeks leading up to the World Health Organization’s second anniversary of proclaiming a pandemic in March 2020, countries such as the United Kingdom and Denmark have lifted all legal Covid restrictions, and many US states have masks and other Relaxed the rules.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the change indicates that he has begun to learn to “live with Covid.”

The WHO states that if about 70% of the world is vaccinated, the “acute phase” of the pandemic could end by the middle of this year.

From pandemic to endemic?

Spain is one of the countries seeking to approach Covid as it has entered the “endemic” stage. That is, there are mild seasonal outbreaks, such as influenza, where humans can live.

However, some scientists are concerned that the government may use somewhat vague terms to justify lifting lifesaving measures.

“The word” endemic “has become one of the most misused words in a pandemic,” said Aris Katzourakis, an evolutionary virologist at Oxford University.

“The disease is endemic, can be endemic and can be fatal,” he told Nature last week, killing more than 600,000 people from malaria and 1.5 million from tuberculosis in 2020. I pointed out that I did.

There are other options besides pandemics and endemic diseases. SAGE, the UK Government’s scientific advisory body, has presented four potential scenarios over the next few years.

In the “reasonable best case” scenario, the higher the number of Covids, the fewer cases of influenza, resulting in less regional or seasonal outbreaks.

In the worst-case scenario, unpredictable new variants are incorporated into a repeating wave of harmful viruses that need to regain strict limits.

Different results depend on two important uncertainties. It is the potential for the emergence of new variants and the ability of vaccines to protect against disease in the long run.

Threat of new variants

When it comes to vaccines, Omicron has served as both a warning and a test.

Many epidemiologists say that simply spreading Covid without checking it increases the likelihood of mutating to a new strain.

And there is no guarantee that such new variants are less deadly.

“There is a widespread misunderstanding that viruses evolve over time and become more benign,” said Katsolakis.

“This is not the case. There are no planned evolutionary consequences of the virus becoming more benign,” he said, noting that the delta variant was more deadly than the first strain that appeared in Wuhan, China. ..

Omicron also partially circumvents protection from currently available vaccines.

However, they are very effective in preventing serious illness and death-especially the third booster shot deployed around the world.

Vaccine for rescue?

Countries such as Israel and Sweden have begun a fourth dose, but experts fear that an infinite number of booster shots is a short-sighted strategy. A January Israeli study also found that the fourth dose was less effective against Omicron.

Pharmaceutical giants have been competing to develop vaccines specifically targeting Omicron, but none are likely to be available.

Some recent preliminary results conducted in animals and not peer-reviewed suggest that targeted vaccines are less effective against Omicron than their predecessors.

But there may be another way. It’s not about narrowing the scope of the vaccine, it’s about expanding it.

Three researchers, including Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to US President Joe Biden, protect not only Covid, but also future coronaviruses that can spread from animals and cause another pandemic. We are looking for a “universal coronavirus vaccine”.

“We must now prioritize the development of broadly defensive vaccines,” the researchers wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine over the weekend.

However, such vaccines face major hurdles, and the first effort is just beginning to be tested in humans.

Meanwhile, WHO emphasizes that the best way to end the acute phase of a pandemic is not to repopulate, but to share doses with developed countries.

As of the end of last month, only 13% of Africans were fully vaccinated, well below the 70% target required by mid-year, according to the WHO.

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