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Friday, July 23, 2021

Looking into the future of the pandemic

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What the world needs at this point is to greatly increase the production and distribution of vaccines so that we can move on with hope and certainty, leaving our anxieties and losses behind.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been appearing in the form of multiple waves throughout the world. This is clearly the nature of this virus; other members of the coronavirus family also have this character.

In the beginning, death rates were high because we did not know much about this new virus. But in subsequent waves, doctors all over the world have figured out that those who have received two doses of vaccine are far less likely to die than those who did not take the vaccine. This is called the real life effectiveness of vaccines.

Prior to the release of vaccines, we saw the publication of phase 3 trials where vaccines were compared to placebo in participants around the world. Such trials were held under stringent conditions, with careful monitoring

– but on relatively small numbers of people.

It was expected that these results would represent the real-life picture once the vaccine was rolled out into large numbers of people. However, a few bio scientists were understandably concerned whether these trial efficacy results (done on only a few thousand individuals) will translate into real life effectiveness in millions of people in field conditions.

Fortunately, data is pouring in from all over the world that all vaccines are now able to prevent bad outcomes to a significant degree, just as predicted.

We have also seen that the real-life effectiveness of some vaccines such as Pfizer have dropped to as low as 65% in Israel, while that of adenovirus vector vaccines and inactivated virus vaccines have been better than initially believed to be, thus levelling the playing field between vaccines.

Small countries with limited populations serve as laboratories to the world about how effectively vaccines will reduce suffering and deaths. Seychelles is one such nation, with a population of under just under 100,000. Seychelles also is one of the most vaccinated nations in the world. This island nation uses two vaccines: an adenovirus vector vaccine (Astrazeneca) and an inactivated virus vaccine (SinoPharm).

Even though there were initial concerns about a surge due to tourism, it was later found that those who were fully vaccinated were 99.991% likely to survive the COVID-19 surge in Seychelles – which is probably the best proof of how vaccines will shape our future.

Livelihood has to continue, people have to go to work, children have to get educated, social life has to restart and economy has to move on. No doubt there will be future surges, but as the world gets vaccinated, fewer people will require to be hospitalised and even less will die.

It is also been shown by latest research studies that our immunity induced by vaccination (or by past infection) actually improves over a period of time and is even able to tackle variants.

Therefore, even if there are few breakthrough infections, these are unlikely to cause harm. What the world needs at this point is to greatly increase the production and distribution of vaccines so that we can move on with hope and certainty, leaving our anxieties and losses behind.

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Rajeev Jaya Devanhttps://t.co/n5c1xzk8Uc
Dr Rajeev Jayadevan completed his MBBS and MD General Medicine from Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore, India in 1995. He was awarded MRCP (UK) at Edinburgh in 1996. He obtained Board Certifications in Medicine and Gastroenterology (Fellowship) from New York Medical College, and spent three years in the UK and ten years in the US before returning to his hometown of Ernakulam, Kerala. He is a gastroenterologist, a grassroots level social worker, public educator, researcher, mentor writer, author and speaker. He writes on complex health matters and regularly appears on TV and radio. His book ‘Think like a Doctor’ has just been released. Having championed several social causes including prevention of road accidents, noise pollution, teen alcoholism and tobacco use, Dr Rajeev Jayadevan is the President of IMA (Indian Medical Association) Cochin. He has been the Kerala state IMA convener for communication skills training for doctors for the past 5 years.
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