Call for greater focus on developing Covid vaccines that block transmission

Experts have warned that the pandemic could ‘reverberate’ around the world for years to come.

Ella Pickover
Tuesday 05 April 2022 17:57
Ending the pandemic around the globe remained an urgent ‘economic, health and moral priority’, the report stated (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Ending the pandemic around the globe remained an urgent ‘economic, health and moral priority’, the report stated (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

More must be done to find Covid-19 vaccines that block transmission of the virus, experts have said.

Academics said that it was time to “set our sights” on developing the next generation of vaccines to prevent transmission that would not require “endless boosters”.

The call comes as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), along with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Global Fund and Wellcome Trust called for countries around the world to create a multi-billion dollar annual funding pot to help fight pandemics and better strengthen health systems.

Without providing other countries with better tools to help them deal with the crisis, the pandemic could “continue to reverberate and disrupt societies for many, many years to come”, one expert said.

The report stated that ending the pandemic around the globe remained an urgent “economic, health and moral priority” and that countries should provide 15 billion US dollars (£11 billion) in grants this year and 10 billion US dollars (£7.6 billion) a year thereafter to manage the long-term risks of Covid-19.

This would also help limit the cost of the pandemic – which has already been estimated to have cost the global economy 13.8 trillion US dollars (£10.5 billion).

Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, who previously advised the Government on the Covid crisis, said in a statement: “Now is not the time to ease up – the virus’s next move is anything but certain and the risk of new variants high.

“We all desperately want this pandemic to be over. But simply wishing for the most optimistic scenario won’t make it so.

“We need to set our sights on developing next generation vaccines that can block transmission and won’t require endless boosters, strengthening genomic surveillance globally so we can identify and track new variants and improving global access to vaccines, treatments and tests.

“Leaving any countries unprotected puts us all at risk.”

He also told a press briefing: “The truth is, it is not over and the actions that we take now, the reforms that we put in place, the financial support we give will enable a pandemic in its acute phase to come to an end quicker.

“Unless we make sure we give all of our countries the toolkits to respond then I’m afraid this pandemic will continue to reverberate and disrupt societies for many, many years to come.”

Gita Gopinath, first deputy managing director at the IMF, said: “Overall, health security is economic security. As recently as January, we’d estimated the cumulative losses from the pandemic to reach 13.8 trillion dollars.

“The international community should recognise that its pandemic financing addresses a systemic risk to the global economy.

“Thus we are calling for additional funding to fight pandemics and to strengthen health systems. This will require about 15 billion US dollars in grants this year and 10 billion US dollars annually after that.

“The cost of inaction, for all of us, is very high. We need to act, now.”

It comes as the UK is facing record infection rates, with an estimated five million people across the nation believed to be currently infected.

And vulnerable and elderly groups are being called forward for their fourth vaccine in under a year-and-a-half, with some particularly vulnerable people being invited for their fifth jab.

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