New research has shown that more than 66% of epidemiologists across the world believe that the COVID vaccines will become ineffective within a year, requiring new or modified vaccines.
People’s Vaccine Alliance surveyed 77 epidemiologists from 28 different countries and found that 66.2% predicted that the world has a year or less before variants make current vaccines ineffective, according to Medscape.
About 32.5% of the epidemiologist said vaccine ineffectiveness would happen in 9 months or less, while 18.2% said 6 months or less.
Dr. Paul Offit, Director, Vaccine Education Center, told Medscape Medical News it is hard to say whether coronavirus vaccines could become ineffective in that timeframe, but “it’s perfectly reasonable to think it could happen.”
He explained that the good news is the novel coronavirus mutates much slower than other viruses, including influenza.
Dr. Offit, who was not part of the survey, said, “To date, the mutations that have occurred are not far enough away from the immunity induced by your natural infection or immunization such that one isn’t protected at least against severe and critical disease.”
That’s the goal of vaccines, he noted, “To keep people from suffering mightily. And so far that’s happening, even with the variants. That line has not been crossed. But I think we should assume that it might be.”
Dr. Offit, who is the co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine, said it is important to monitor people who are hospitalized who are infected or fully vaccinated. He added, “Then countries need to get really good at sequencing those viruses.”
The People’s Vaccine Alliance said rich countries are giving vaccines at the rate of one person a second, but many poor countries have not even given a single dose to most of their population.
Dr. Offit said, “You’re only as strong as your weakest country. If we haven’t learned that what happens in other countries can (affect the global population), we haven’t been paying attention.”
Dr. Gregg Gonsalves of Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, did not specify a timeline for when the currently available vaccines would become ineffective.
He said, “Unless we vaccinate the world, we leave the playing field open to more and more mutations, which could churn out variants that could evade our current vaccines and require booster shots to deal with them.”
Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a Johns Hopkins pulmonologist, said the survey findings were “dire, but not surprising,” according to Medscape.
“It’s morally concerning and an ethical reckoning,” he told Medscape. “Recognition of the borderless swath of destruction the virus is exacting is critical.”
Dr. Galiatsatos explained, “My suspicion is we’ll probably need boosters instead of a whole different vaccine.” The article was published Tuesday on Medscape Medical News.