Current Covid-19 vaccines 'may only be effective this year'

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Experts warn the current crop of Covid-19 vaccines may become ineffective within a year.

Scientists are calling for an efficient global vaccination programme to curb the pandemic as new more aggressive variations of the virus continue to emerge, and warn new vaccines will need to be developed soon.

People's Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of organisations including Amnesty International, Oxfam, and UNAIDS, carried out a survey of 77 scientists around the world, and one-third of participants believe the first-generation vaccines may only be useful for another nine months.

"New mutations arise every day. Sometimes they find a niche that makes them more fit than their predecessors. These lucky variants could transmit more efficiently and potentially evade immune responses to previous strains," Gregg Gonsalves, associate professor of epidemiology at Yale University, said in a statement.

"Unless we vaccinate the world, we leave the playing field open to more and more mutations, which could churn out variants that could evade our current vaccines and require booster shots to deal with them."

While the U.K. and U.S. have given at least one dose to more than a quarter of their populations and have a wealth of supplies, South Africa and Thailand are yet to vaccinate one per cent of their population. Low vaccine coverage in many countries remains an issue for the effectiveness of the vaccines currently being used, with some countries yet to administer a single dose.

The threat of new variations of the virus, which are more transmissible and less susceptible to vaccines, are emerging, and this could lead to a demand for the development of new vaccines.

Covax, a global vaccine initiative coalition, hopes to supply lower-income countries with enough doses to vaccinate 27 per cent of their population.

However, some experts don't believe this will be enough to curb the pandemic.

"The urgency we see in rich nations to vaccinate their populations, aiming for all adults by the summer, is simply not reflected globally. Instead, we have Covax aiming for perhaps 27 per cent by the end of the year if we possibly can manage it - that is simply not good enough," said Max Lawson, head of inequality policy at Oxfam and the chair of the People's Vaccine Alliance, reports The Guardian.

"Where is the ambitious global goal? A goal that the science tells us is needed? I think that's the key point - we just don't see the ambition that would go along with it, widespread recognition that limited vaccination is quite dangerous."