By Sushil Kutty
Dr Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist who helped the WHO eradicate smallpox in the last century says “it’s too late to hope for herd immunity” against Covid-19 and, therefore, the novel coronavirus can be called the “forever virus”, something that wouldn’t sit well with most of us. Dr Brilliant predicts a “long fight” with the coronavirus variants, many of which are in the womb of the future.
So Covid-19 isn’t going away, which isn’t exactly news. It has also infected an array of species, animals and humans, with multiple new variants. What’s more there‘ll always be a brand new variant. If monkeys can get it, you cannot expect them to put their arms out to get vaccinated, says Dr. Brilliant. “It’ll be tough to get them to stand in line!”
That said, we should be grateful. Those of us who’ve got the jabs, that is. “It’s the best of times, because we’ve got the vaccines, and it’s the worst of times, because of the people who don’t have the vaccine. You can’t help but look at the funeral pyres burning in India and Nepal and contrast that to Americans… It’s a tale not of two cities but of two worlds, and two lived experiences,” says Dr. Brilliant.
What if the “second world”, consumed with illness and suffering, continues to score mutations, spawn variants that are more transmissible and vaccine resistant? Well, they are already there—the alpha, beta, gamma and delta variants. The ones called “variants of concern”.
Then, again, what if a particular variant of high consequences, as the WHO calls it, emerges? It’ll be everywhere. A new variant that will beat all the previous variants, the so-called ancestral strains. The new variant will infect those who haven’t been vaccinated. Also infect people who’ve been vaccinated.
The new variant could in fact render all vaccines to date ineffective. “I don’t want to exaggerate it. I don’t want it to be the thing that everybody thinks about all the time, but epidemiologists have to think about it sometimes,” says Dr. Brilliant.
According to him, if 30 per cent of Americans are left unvaccinated, there’ll be 120 million Americans for a new variant of the virus to infect and create another wave. The explosion of delta-infected cases in India was because India lagged in reporting cases.
“So we need to find ways to aggregate data, because we’re really in this for the long haul,” says Dr. Briliant, which is a warning to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the array of Chief Ministers. Maybe the 2nd Covid wave has come and gone, but there could be a third wave.
As British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is learning to his grief. The tousleheaded Johnson is fighting criticism for taking Britain down a slippery slope by refusing to halt scores of flights from delta-ravaged India. And now, it’s too late. He has been forced to delay the final stage of easing lockdown restrictions till July 19. Reason: Coronavirus infections and hospitalisations due to the delta variant, first seen in India, remains dangerously high.
Johnson has been warned of a “significant resurgence” if the lockdown is eased on June 21. The last stage of lockdown dubbed “Freedom Day” therefore stands postponed. Greater hospitalizations of “delta cases” is very much a possibility to be avoided at any cost.
“It is sensible to wait a little longer,” Johnson said. “We must learn to live with it. Vaccination greatly reduces risk… Even if the link between hospitalisation and vaccination has weakened, it hasn’t been broken.”
Johnson has urged the G7 to vaccinate the entire world by the end of 2022. This as total vaccinations in India touched 25,90,44,072 and total Covid-19 deaths numbered 377,031.
But while we count the dead and infected, know that this world is not limited to people who look forward to vaccinating the world against the novel coronavirus. There are also a large number of us who think those vaccinating are a suicide cult, and “very real”.
There’s one such group in the United States, which swears that vaccines are a “product of mass hypnosis combined with a widespread desire for self-annihilation.”
The group, which has resources in plenty to carry through a campaign against vaccination, says people who are “consciously or unconsciously seeking to end their own lives” have stumbled upon the final solution: The covid vaccine! “Today’s vaccine worshipers are killing themselves as they pay homage to the false god of ‘science’. The outcome will be the same: Mass death and shattered delusions.”
According to these anti-vaxers, those taking the vaccine are participating in “global suicide”. They say that anticipating vaccine deaths in the thousands, oil companies in the United States are planning “replacement” strategies. “Succession planning is what it’s called. About half of those who took the vaccine will die in the coming years.”
India has no overt group of anti-vaxers. But there are plenty of Indians who are refusing to take the jab. And because the authorities in India have left it to the people themselves to vaccinate or not, there’s every chance that there will be enough numbers of the unvaccinated left in India for a new untested variant of the novel coronavirus to thrive on and kill. (IPA Service)