Mar 1, 2021
South Africa halted distribution of the British AstraZeneca vaccine in the beginning of February. This was because that vaccine was found less effective against the new, more infectious variant of the coronavirus that has become dominant there. A fact about coronaviruses is that they mutate—they are able to evolve. We’ve already seen more infectious variants evolve in Brazil and the United Kingdom in addition to South Africa.
So humanity is in a race—a race against this virus’s ability to mutate into new variants. Vaccines can offer protection, and could help bring the coronavirus to heel. But that can only work if everyone in the world is vaccinated. Everyone in the wealthy countries might be vaccinated by this fall. But that may end up a hollow victory. If the virus is left to circulate in the poor countries, newer variants will inevitably come forth, and some may be able to infect people who were vaccinated for an earlier version of the virus. When those variants make it back to the rich countries, it would mean even more “waves” to this pandemic.
This pandemic will not be ended in one country alone. Humanity is in this together.