New Study Shows How Covid Could Someday Be Eradicated
The study compared 17 Covid-related factors with similar factors of smallpox and polio – two other vaccine-preventable diseases. Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, and two out of the three polio serotypes have been eradicated worldwide.
The authors of the study compared factors such as vaccine availability, public health measures, vaccine messaging, political and economic impact of the diseases, how long vaccine immunity is known to last, impact of public health measures, effectiveness of infection control messaging, political and public concern about the economic and social impacts of the diseases, and how publicly accepted the vaccines were shown to be.
The study used a three-point scoring system for each of the 17 factors and found that feasibility of eradication was slightly higher for Covid-19 than it had been for polio, but lower than it was for smallpox. The average scores in the analysis were 2.7 for smallpox, 1.6 for Covid, and 1.5 for polio.
One of the study’s authors, Nick Wilson, a professor of public health at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand, says the study “suggested that Covid-19 is likely to be technically feasible to eradicate.”
He said the most important component of the comparisons between Covid-19, polio and smallpox was the combination of effective vaccines and effective public health measures that make eradication possible. “But of course, there are major challenges,” Wilson admits.
He notes that any evolution in the virus that potentially reduces vaccine effectiveness (such as what’s happened with the Delta variant), is one variable that could change projections. Animal reservoirs of infection might also become a challenge, he says, “but as we detail in our study, this is not a major concern because it is very rare for humans to be infected from other animal species.”
A more serious concern, Wilson says, is misinformation causing vaccine hesitancy. A recent survey from the Public Religion Research Institute found that vaccine hesitancy is down from where it was in March (28 percent), but 15 percent of Americans still report being hesitant about receiving any of the available Covid vaccines. “Misinformation on social media may continue to reduce vaccination uptake in some countries,” he says.
Wilson notes that eradicating Covid-19 must be a global effort and that hesitancy varies widely from country to county. “International politics is very divisive at present,” he says, “but then again, the world eradicated smallpox during the Cold War.”
He points to areas of the world such as China, Taiwan, Queensland, and South Australia as success stories to show how eradication can happen, because each were able to eliminate even Delta variant outbreaks recently.
“Global eradication would be a matter of using similar methods these jurisdictions followed combined with increasing vaccination coverage,” Wilson says. He added that the duplication of such results could then snowball from there: “When countries have eliminated Covid, they could open their borders to quarantine-free travel with other elimination countries in a pattern of progressive elimination until global eradication is achieved.”
News Credit: www.forbes.com
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