In a recent study published in the Nature Human Behaviour journal, a team of researchers proposed a metapopulation model to assess the different severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccine allocation strategies adopted globally.
To date, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused over 376 million confirmed infections and 5.6 million deaths globally. SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are much needed to curb this spread and reduce public mortality. As of 30 January 2022, a total of 9.9 billion vaccine doses had been administered globally, and yet there is a staggering imbalance in vaccine distribution.
In high-income countries (HICs), over 70% of people are fully vaccinated while in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), only 4% are fully vaccinated. This global vaccine inequity can lead to long-lasting consequences against public health and worsen the spread of the virus.
About the study
The present study assessed the various SARS-CoV-2 vaccine allocation strategies employed by HICs and LMICs globally and estimated the effect of global vaccine inequity on global vaccine effectiveness.
In this study, countries were classified as HICs and LMICs owing to their abilities to mass-produce vaccines. As per strategies for equitable global allocation of vaccines, four prioritization criteria, namely prevalence, population size, incidence, and mortality rate are utilized to provide vaccines and vaccine-related supplies to all countries, irrespective of their wealth. However, a portion (χ) of the available vaccines are bought by the HICs while the remaining are distributed among the LMICs.
The number of COVID-19 cases emerging under equitable and inequitable vaccine allocation strategies was investigated based on the population size of the countries. The study also assessed the effects of various vaccine donation strategies by countries in which the prevalence of COVID-19 infections was below a specified threshold (Ithr). Furthermore, varied allow-donation vaccine allocation strategies were tested with a focus on larger population countries prioritized for receiving the vaccines. The impact of vaccine donations if HIC donated vaccines to only their geographically neighboring LMICs was also investigated.
The study results showed that inequitable allocation of vaccines led to a rapid decline in COVID-19 incidences in the HICs and a slower decrease in infections in LMICs. This, in turn, caused more infections in the LMICs, thus extending the global duration of the pandemic. Furthermore, in the inequitable vaccine allocation scenario, a rebound of COVID-19 cases in LMICs was observed. HICs also experienced an increase in rebound cases as newer strains emerged in the LMICs.
Although under equitable vaccine allocation strategies, all four criteria led to similar pandemic durations, the researchers noted that prioritizing countries with bigger population sizes for vaccine allocation caused a slight increase in COVID-19 infections and related mortality globally. However, prioritizing vaccines to highly populated countries can reduce the overall prevalence of highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 strains. Equitable vaccine distribution was found to reduce the global transmission of new viral strains, while allocating a larger share of vaccine supply to HICs led to faster transmission of newer strains globally.
The allow-donation vaccine allocation strategies benefitted all LMICs irrespective of the number of vaccines donated, although donation of more vaccines led to a significant reduction in mortality in LMICs. It was also observed that even small donations of vaccines made by HICs even when the local cases were high can effectively curb the spread of the virus globally. Furthermore, HICs donating vaccines only to their neighboring LMICs notably increased cumulative mortality in the LMICs, while only a small difference was observed in the cumulative mortality in HICs. Without a reduction in LMIC cases, the local epidemic in HICs cannot be fully eliminated due to continuous importations from the LMICs. Thus, HICs can further benefit from donating their excess vaccines to LMICs.
The study results indicated that prioritizing vaccination in countries with higher prevalence and mortality related to COVID-19 infections is necessary to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 within the countries. However, in the case of highly transmissible VOCs, countries with dense populations should be prioritized for vaccine allocation. The increase in transmissibility of newly emerged SARS-CoV-2 strains when vaccines supply was primarily allocated to HICs underlined the disadvantages of inequitable vaccine allocation which led to higher mortality in HICs as well as LMICs.
Altogether, inequity in vaccine allocation provided only short-term benefits to HICs while increasing the number of COVID-19 infections and related deaths in both LMICs and HICs eventually. Equitable global vaccine allocation can effectively reduce the spread and mortality of the disease while also preventing the emergence and transmission of new SARS-CoV-2 strains. Global cooperation in the face of an unprecedented pandemic can be help achieve vaccine equity for both HICs and LMICs.
DeMille Anticipates Broader Rollout Of 4th Dose Vaccination – Country 105
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) is getting ready for the annual flu shot campaign, as well as a broader ask for arms to get the fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The province expanded the second booster dose eligibility on April 7th to those who are 60 and over as well as First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over.
“At this time, I’m not hearing any indication of the province opening up (eligibility) to the broader population, and I’m not sure really we would have evidence that would be needed at this time,” DeMille told Acadia News Monday. “We are much lower in terms of the amount of COVID-19 (cases) in the province of Ontario. With the summertime, we see overall less spread (of the virus).”
DeMille did mention that the District anticipates the call will get broader in the fall.
As of June 21st, 133,334 people within the TBDHU have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 80,719 have received three doses.
Officials have given fourth doses to 18,687 individuals as of the last update.
DeMille was also asked about a return to school in September, and what that might look like after Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told Federal MPs on June 8th that there is a real threat of the seventh wave of COVID-19.
The Medical Officer says it’s hard to look into the crystal ball and pinpoint what will happen based on the fact that right now a majority of the new infections are the Omicron variant.
“The schools overall did fairly well,” DeMille stated. “We know that a lot of people did get infected, which can cause a lot of disruption because people still need to isolate so that they are not spreading (the virus) to others. Likely a lot of spread happened in the schools when we re-opened in January and through the last few waves.”
DeMille noted that the schools took a lot of measures that helped in previous waves, including improving ventilation.
“I anticipate that (masking) will always be optional, but when the Omicron variant is spreading, it’s always helpful when people are masking in indoor spaces when they are interacting with others,” said DeMille. “(Down the road) we might recommend that people wear masks in schools, but that advice will really depend on what we see circulating, how much it is circulating and what the impact is on schools.”
DeMille mentioned whether it is the school, the workplace, or any other indoor space, the goal is to return to as normal as possible in an eventual post-pandemic world.
Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, says WHO – Global News
Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) ruled on Saturday, although WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was deeply concerned about the outbreak.
“I am deeply concerned about the monkeypox outbreak, this is clearly an evolving health threat that my colleagues and I in the WHO Secretariat are following extremely closely,” Tedros said.
The “global emergency” label currently only applies to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio, and the U.N. agency has stepped back from applying it to the monkeypox outbreak after advice from a meeting of international experts.
There have been more than 3,200 confirmed cases of monkeypox and one death reported in the last six weeks from 48 countries where it does not usually spread, according to WHO.
So far this year almost 1,500 cases and 70 deaths in central Africa, where the disease is more common, have also been reported, chiefly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Monkeypox, a viral illness causing flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, has been spreading largely in men who have sex with men outside the countries where it is endemic.
It has two clades – the West African strain, which is believed to have a fatality rate of around 1% and which is the strain spreading in Europe and elsewhere, and the Congo Basin strain, which has a fatality rate closer to 10%, according to WHO.
More than half of Canadians confident in monkeypox response, but 55% worried about spread: poll
There are vaccines and treatments available for monkeypox, although they are in limited supply.
The WHO decision is likely to be met with some criticism from global health experts, who said ahead of the meeting that the outbreak met the criteria to be called an emergency.
However, others pointed out that the WHO is in a difficult position after COVID-19. Its January 2020 declaration that the new coronavirus represented a public health emergency was largely ignored by many governments until around six weeks later, when the agency used the word “pandemic” and countries took action.
(Reporting by Jennifer Rigby; additional reporting by Mrinmay Dey; Editing by Sandra Maler)
© 2022 Reuters
Kingston, Ont., area health officials examining future of local vaccination efforts – Global News
More than 455,000 people in the Kingston region have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Now health officials say they’re using the summer months, with low infection rates, to look ahead to what fall might bring, urging those who are still eligible to get vaccinated do so.
“Large, mass immunization clinics, mobile clinics, drive-thru clinics and small primary care clinics doing their own vaccine,” said Brian Larkin with KFL&A Public Health.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Gerald Evans says those who are still eligible for a third and fourth dose should take advantage and roll up their sleeves during the low-infection summer months.
“Now in 2022, although you still might get COVID, you’re probably not going to be very sick. You are less likely to transmit and ultimately that’s one of the ways we’re going to control the pandemic,” added Evans.
He expects another wave of COVID-19 to hit in late October to early November and that a booster may be made available for those younger than 60 who still aren’t eligible for a fourth dose.
“The best case scenario is a few more years of watching rises in cases, getting boosters to control things and ultimately getting out of it with this being just another coronavirus that just tends to cause a respiratory infection and worst-case scenario is a new variant where all the potential possibilities exist to have a big surge in cases and hopefully not a lot more serious illness,” said Evans.
Public Health says they’re still waiting for direction from the province on what’s to come this fall.
“We’re expecting that we would see more age groups and younger age groups be eligible for more doses or boosters but about when those ages start, we have yet to have that confirmed,” said Larkin.
The last 18 months of vaccines paving the way for the new normal could mean a yearly COVID booster alongside the annual flu shot.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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