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WHO says most likely scenario shows COVID severity will decrease over time

The WHO head, however, cautioned that periodic spikes in cases and deaths may occur as immunity wanes, which may require periodic boosting for vulnerable populations.

March 30, 2022 / 10:26 PM IST
WHO's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (File image: AP)

WHO's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (File image: AP)

The World Health Organization on Wednesday released an updated plan for COVID-19, laying out three possible scenarios for how the pandemic will evolve this year.

"Based on what we know now, the most likely scenario is that the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve, but the severity of disease it causes reduces over time as immunity increases due to vaccination and infection," Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a briefing.

However, the WHO head cautioned that periodic spikes in cases and deaths may occur as immunity wanes, which may require periodic boosting for vulnerable populations.

Talking about the other two potential scenarios, Tedros said either less severe variants will emerge and boosters or new formulations of vaccines will not be necessary, or a more virulent variant will emerge and protection from prior vaccination or infection will wane rapidly.

The updated Strategic Preparedness, Readiness and Response Plan sets out the strategic adjustments that every country needs to make to address the drivers of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, lessen the impact of COVID, and end the global emergency.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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This is the third Strategic Preparedness, Readiness and Response Plan released by WHO and will likely be its last, Tedros said.

The first report was released in February 2020, at the start of the pandemic.



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Reuters
first published: Mar 30, 2022 10:26 pm
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