Guest essay by Eric Worrall
WHO Spokesperson Margaret Harris wants rich nations including the USA to allow some of their people die, so more vaccines can be diverted to poor nations to allow them to “catch up”. But following Harris’ advice could significantly increase deaths amongst young people.
WHO urges Britain to pause Covid jabs after treating vulnerable
Sat 30 Jan 2021 22.57 AEDT
Move would help poorer countries receive vaccine, says World Health Organization
A WHO spokeswoman, Margaret Harris, said she wanted to appeal to people in the UK, telling them: “You can wait” because ensuring equitable global distribution is “clearly morally the right thing to do”.
When asked to clarify whether the UK should help efforts elsewhere once it had vaccinated its top nine priority groups, Harris told BBC Breakfast: “We’re asking all countries in those circumstances to do that. Hang on, wait for those other groups.
“We’ll also appeal to all the people of the UK – you can wait.
“We’re asking countries, once you’ve got those [high-risk and healthcare worker] groups, please ensure that the supply you’ve got access to is provided for others.Advertisement
“While that is morally clearly the right thing to do, it’s also economically the right thing to do.
“There have been a number of very interesting analyses showing that just vaccinating your own country and then sitting there and saying ‘we’re fine’ will not work economically.”
I haven’t been able to find a video / audio of this interview. Note people outside the UK cannot watch BBC iPlayer links.
The problem with halting vaccination the way the WHO describes is vaccinated people might not get sick, but there is a possibility they can still spread the virus to other unvaccinated people – the vaccine might not completely prevent infection.
Does the AstraZeneca Vaccine Also Stop Covid Transmission?
The problem is, a Covid-19 vaccine that only prevents illness—which is to say, symptoms—might not prevent infection with the virus or transmission of it to other people. Worst case, a vaccinated person could still be an asymptomatic carrier. That could be bad. More younger people tend to get the virus, but more older people tend to die from it; socioeconomic status and ethnicity also have an impact on death rates. Some people have relatively light symptoms; other people have symptoms that hang on for months. And perhaps most importantly, a vaccine is the only way to reach herd immunity without a bloodbath. As politicized as the notion has become, herd immunity is essentially the sum of direct protection—what you might get if you’re vaccinated—and indirect protection, safety afforded by the fact that people around you aren’t transmitting the disease to you because they either already had the disease themselves or because they got vaccinated against it. If vaccinated people can still be asymptomatic spreaders, that means less indirect protection for the herd.
That’s almost certainly not going to be the situation. The vaccines will probably all have some effect on transmission. But right now no one knows how much, or which one is better, or for whom—because so far only AstraZeneca has even a hint of data studying the problem.
(How good is that data? Well, about that: Ann Falsey, a physician at the University of Rochester School of Medicine who’s leading the US portion of the AstraZeneca vaccine trial, told me via email that “the Oxford study press release hinted at some transmission data, but I am not privileged to that data so I really can’t offer much to say.” A few hours after this story first published, Falsey emailed to add that her study and the Oxford one “are funded and run separately.“ Spokespeople for AstraZeneca didn’t return my requests for more information. Neither did anyone at Moderna. Jerica Pitts, a spokesperson at Pfizer, did, but with nothing yet to report. “In the coming months we will test participants’ blood samples for antibodies that recognize a part of the virus that is not in the vaccine. If fewer participants in the vaccine group than in the placebo group develop such antibodies, we will have evidence that the vaccine can prevent infection as well as disease,” Pitts wrote me in an email. “We do not yet have those data.”)
There is a good chance the vaccine prevents asymptomatic infection as well as stopping people getting sick. But nobody knows for sure.
Young healthy people are far less vulnerable to Covid-19 than older people, but if the vaccine does not prevent asymptomatic infection, or worse increases the risk of the vaccinated becoming asymptomatic carriers, halting vaccine distribution to satisfy the WHO’s demand could lead to a significant increase in deaths amongst people who have not been vaccinated.
via Watts Up With That?
January 31, 2021 at 04:40PM