The global eradication of covid-19 It is “probably feasible” and more than for polio, although considerably less than for smallpox, say experts, for whom the main challenges are to ensure the high acceptance of the vaccine and respond to virus variants. These are some of the conclusions of an analysis that includes a comparative score of the technical, socio-political and economic factors of the three infections, and that also indicates, among the challenges, achieving the necessary international cooperation against “vaccine nationalism” .
For the signatories of the study published in BMJ Global Health, vaccination, public health measures and the global interest By achieving this goal as a consequence of the enormous financial and social ravages, they make eradication possible. But the main challenges lie in ensuring sufficiently high vaccination coverage And power respond quickly enough to variants that can circumvent immunity, add experts from the University of Otago Wellington (New Zealand).
To estimate the feasibility of eradication of the covid-19, defined as “the permanent reduction to zero of the global incidence of infection caused by a specific agent as a result of deliberate efforts”, the authors compared it with two other viral pests for which vaccines were or are available, smallpox and polio. The researchers used a three-point scoring system for each of the 17 variables, including the availability of a safe and effective vaccine; lifetime immunity; the impact of public health measures; effective government management of infection control messages. In addition, political and public concern about the economic and social repercussions or the acceptance of control measures. The mean scores in the analysis totaled 2.7 for smallpox, 1.6 for covid, and 1.5 for polio.
“Although our analysis is a preliminary endeavor, with several subjective components, seems to place the eradication of covid-19 in the realm of what is possible, especially in terms of technical feasibility, “they state. They acknowledge that, in relation to smallpox and polio, the technical challenges of eradicating covid-19 include poor vaccine acceptance and the emergence of more highly transmissible variants than can evade immunity, potentially exceeding the vaccination programs global. “However, viral evolution has its limits, so it is to be expected that the virus will end up reaching its maximum capacity and that new vaccines can be formulated,” they argue.
For researchers, other challenges would be high initial costs (for vaccination and improvement of health systems) and achieving the necessary international cooperation in the face of ‘vaccine nationalism’ and ‘anti-scientific aggression’ mediated by governments. ” of the virus in animal reservoirs can also frustrate efforts, but this does not appear to be a serious problem, they suggest.
On the other hand, they highlight the “unprecedented global interest in controlling the disease and a massive investment in vaccination against the pandemic. “And unlike smallpox and polio, covid-19 also benefits from the added impact of public health measures, such as border controls, social distancing, tracing of contacts and the use of masks, which “can be very effective if they are deployed well.”
Covid-19 elimination has been achieved and sustained over long periods in various jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific region, “providing proof of concept that global eradication is technically possible,” they summarize.
Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980 and two of the three poliovirus serotypes have also been eradicated globally.