Monday Market Musings >>> Is This How Covid Will Finally End
Picture Credit: Hakan Nural
Thousands of people gathered at Provincetown Massachusetts for the Fourth of July holiday, hoping to celebrate the occasion the on a crisp summer morning. However, the festivities had to be held indoors in houses, pubs, and clubs after it started to rain. People being enclosed in small spaces is a perfect environment for the ultra-transmissible Delta variant to thrive, and more than a thousand cases of the Coronavirus was filed in the following weeks even though much of the population is already vaccinated.
This started to set off alarm bells regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine, but Dan Barouch, a Harvard Medical School professor, sees the situation in a different light. He commented, “Initially it was viewed as evidence of vaccine failure. I would actually argue that it is evidence of vaccine success. These vaccines are doing what they intended to do”.
After experts studied the Covid cluster formed in Provincetown, they drew some surprising conclusions. They concluded that 80% of breakthrough cases (when a vaccinated individual becomes infected with the illness that the vaccine was meant to prevent) were symptomatic, but most of the population only reported mild symptoms. When local health officials inquired further into this cluster formed in the densely vaccinated area, they were surprised to find that the quantity of viral material found on nasal swabs in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people were the same.
This prompted people to believe that vaccines had no effect on the transmissibility of the virus, but research conducted by Boston’s Board Institute proved otherwise. Helen Petousis-Harris, a vaccinologist at the University of Auckland found the results of the study reassuring. She clarified the results of the study by commenting “vaccination against Covid-19 is the best way to prevent getting severely ill and dying from Covid, but it doesn’t completely stop everyone who gets it from being infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus or from transmitting it”. She further went to explain that vaccination does however lower the likelihood of spreading the virus.
Further research done in Dan Barouch’s lab helps explain why. Research showed that people who experienced a breakthrough infection experienced a surge in virus tackling T-cells and antibodies. Dan Barouch comments, “We think this is the likely reason why vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections generally have a mild course of disease in the vast majority of cases, because they have a rapid onset of very potent antibody and T-cell responses that likely control the virus”. He also commented that those individuals are likely to have high levels of immunity for a longer time frame.
Scientists call it an “anamnestic response” when an individual’s immunity against a virus is boosted through exposure to the virus which in turn triggers a natural response from the immune system. Helen Petousis-Harris believes that SARS-CoV-2 will soon cease to be as lethal as it once was, as the immune system will naturally understand how to tackle it over time with the help of vaccines.
Picture Credit: Taylor Brandon
So far more than 7.52 billion Covid vaccine shots have been received worldwide. However, the distribution of these vaccines remains uneven with only 10% of Sub-Saharan Africa being fully vaccinated against the virus. According to Human Rights Watch, 75% of Covid vaccines have gone to 10 countries, with the world’s wealthiest countries administering more than 100 times more vaccines than poorer nations. It is imperative that richer nations don’t create stockpiles of vaccines for themselves and distribute the vaccines equally for everyone to access the lifeline that the vaccine offers against Covid-19.
November 22nd 2021 | 10:00 PM