Of the 128 million vaccine doses administered so far, more than three quarters of those vaccinations are in just 10 countries, which together account for 60 per cent of global GDP. Almost 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose. The emergence of variants of Covid-19 serve as a reminder that viruses by their very nature mutate, and that the scientific response may need to adapt if they are to remain effective against them, said the WHO.
In light of recent news stories regarding the preliminary data on minimal effectiveness of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine at preventing mild to moderate Covid-19 disease, the WHO notes that primary analysis of data from Phase III trials has so far shown – in the context of viral settings without this variant – that the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine offers protection against severe disease, hospitalisation and death. This means it is vitally important now to determine the vaccine’s effectiveness when it comes to preventing more severe illness, according to the WHO.
Imperial College London updates Covid-19 tool
Meanwhile, Imperial’s coronavirus outbreak tool has been updated to project the impact of vaccine programmes in all countries. The tool, developed by the Imperial College London’s Covid-19 Response Team in collaboration with AquAffirm, has been updated so healthcare services and policymakers around the world can plan their vaccine programmes under different scenarios.
With the addition of vaccine impact projections, users can explore the impact of prioritising different target groups and understand the impact of different vaccines, rates of vaccination and supply constraints. Importantly, the tool can be used to evaluate how ongoing social restrictions can be eased as vaccine coverage increases.
Integrating vaccine roll-out statistics
The model is calibrated to weekly updates on the number of Covid-19 deaths in each country, compiled by the Covid-19 Data Repository at John Hopkins University. This is combined with local demographic data based on UN World Population projections and estimates of healthcare worker and at-risk populations. In addition, the team is in the process of integrating vaccine roll-out statistics for most countries across the world.
Professor Azra Ghani, of Imperial College London, said: “Vaccines are clearly going to be critical in ensuring that the most vulnerable in all parts of the world are protected from Covid-19 and that, in tandem, countries can begin to return to a more normal way of life. By developing a tool that can be used with minimal user-training, we hope that this will enable those involved with planning their local response to understand how to best use the vaccine doses that they have available to protect public health alongside reducing social restrictions.”