Home / Health / New forms of COVID have changed the game and vaccines will not be enough. We need a global ‘maximum suppression’.

New forms of COVID have changed the game and vaccines will not be enough. We need a global ‘maximum suppression’.



At the end of 2020, there is great hope that high-altitude vaccination will put humanity in the upper hand over SARS-CoV-2, the virus that eventually causes COVID-19. It was packaged at a very low level with no social disruption or mass death.

But since then, “new concerns” have emerged and have spread around the world, putting current epidemic control efforts, including vaccination, at risk to derail.

Simply put, the game has changed, and the successful launch of today’s vaccine around the world by itself is no longer a guarantee of victory.

No one is truly safe from COVID-1

9 until everyone is safe. We are racing against time to keep the global transmission rates low enough to prevent the emergence and spread of new strains.The danger is that variability occurs, which can overcome immunity acquired through vaccination or infection. Precursor

Moreover, many countries lack the ability to track emerging variables through genomic surveillance. This means that the situation might be more serious than it appears.

As a member of the Lancet COVID-19 Commission Taskforce on Public Health, we call for urgent action in response to the new variant. These new variants mean we cannot rely on vaccines alone to provide protection. But strong public health measures must be maintained to reduce the risk of these variables. At the same time, we need to speed up vaccination programs in all countries equally.

When used together, these strategies will help achieve “Maximum suppression” of the virus.

What are the ‘variables of concern’?

Virus genetic mutations such as SARS-CoV-2 are common. But some species are labeled This is a “worrying variant” because it can infect people who have previously been infected or vaccinated, or be more contagious, or may exacerbate the disease.



Read more: UK, South Africa, Brazil: Virologists explain each COVID variant and what it means for the epidemic.


At least three different SARS-CoV-2 forms are documented:

  • B. 1.351 first reported in South Africa in December 2020.

  • B.1.1.7 First reported in the UK in December 2020.

  • Page 1 listed for the first time in Japan among travelers from Brazil in January 2021.

Similar mutations occur in different countries simultaneously, meaning that even border controls and high vaccination rates are needed to protect the country from home-grown strains as well as the worrying variables that are spread. Greatly distributed in the community

If there is a high level of infection and hence the widespread SARS-CoV-2 simulation wherever in the world, a wide range of concerns will inevitably arise and the greater the spread of the infection. With international mobility, these variables will spread.

A man in a Brazilian flag robe walks past a billboard showing the Brazilian launch of all vaccines.
Brazil has vaccinated millions of people. But also the origin of one of the most important variables today
Eraldo Perees / AP

South African experience suggests that past SARS-CoV-2 infection was only partially protected against variant B.1.351 and was approximately 50% more contagious than existing strains. 1.351 in at least 48 countries as of March 2021.

The impact of the new variant on vaccine efficacy is unclear. Recent real-world evidence from the UK suggests that both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines significantly protect against severe disease and hospitalizations from the B.1.1.7 variant.

Variant B.1.351, on the other hand, appears to reduce the effectiveness of AstraZeneca vaccine against mild to moderate illness. We do not yet have strong evidence that this drug can reduce its effectiveness against serious disease.

For these reasons, reducing the transmission of infection in the community is important. No action is taken to prevent the spread of the virus. We must maintain strong public health measures in conjunction with vaccination programs in every country.

Why do we need maximum suppression?

Every time a virus is replicated there is a chance of mutation. And as we have seen around the world, some of the resulting variables are at risk of destroying the vaccine’s effectiveness.

That’s why we call for a global strategy to “Suppression maximum”

Public health leaders should focus efforts on suppressing the highest rate of viral infection, helping to prevent the development of mutations that could become a new variant of concern.

The rapid launch of the vaccine alone would not be enough to meet this goal. Ongoing public health measures such as face masks and body spacing will also be important. Indoor space ventilation is essential, some of which are under people’s control, some of which will require modifications to the building.

Fair access to vaccines

Global equality in access to vaccines is also important. High-income countries should support multilateral mechanisms such as the COVAX Center, donating excess vaccines to low and middle-income countries and supporting increased vaccine production.

However, to avoid raising concerns with the virus model, prioritization may be required for countries or regions with the highest prevalence and transmission levels where the risk of such transmission is highest.



Read more: 3 ways to vaccinate the world and make everyone benefit, both the rich and the poor.


People with control of healthcare resources, services, and systems should ensure that support is available for healthcare professionals in managing increased hospitalizations in shorter periods of time. Surge without reducing care for non-COVID-19 patients

The health system must be better prepared to cope with future variables. The suppression effort should be accompanied by:

  • A genome surveillance program to identify and characterize rapidly emerging strains in countries around the world.

  • A large “second generation” vaccine program is rapidly increasing capacity that could support equality in vaccine distribution.

  • Studying the effectiveness of vaccines on existing and new concerns.

  • Adaptation of public health measures (For example, wearing a double mask) and returning to the health system. (E.g. certification of personal protective equipment for health workers)

  • Behavior, environmental, social, and systemic interventions such as activation, ventilation, pacing, and effective search, testing, monitoring, isolation, and support systems.



Read more: Weekly COVID cases around the world are in decline, WHO says – but ‘if we stop fighting it in every way, it will come back roaring’


Different forms of COVID-19 have changed the game. We need to be aware of and act on this if we, as a global society, must avoid future infections, with more barriers and restrictions, and avoidable illnesses and deaths.


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