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'Huge demand' to vaccinate the world amid COVID variant concerns: Doctor

·2-min read

Dr. Rishi Desai, Osmosis chief medical Officer and former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemic intelligence officer joined Yahoo Finance Live Monday to discuss the recent push for greater vaccine distribution.

Though the U.S. vaccination rate is at almost 50%, “Over half the world hasn’t seen [the] vaccine yet,” Desai said.

Several countries, including many low-income ones, have lagged behind in vaccine distribution and have been hit severely by the virus. Total coronavirus cases worldwide crossed 175 million earlier this month.

“There’s a couple of reasons why you want to make sure vaccines go abroad,” Desai said. “A, because it’s the right thing to do. But B, because [not doing so] creates a risk for variants to come back and cause havoc back home.”

Much of the recent rise in cases can be attributed to the spread of newer variants of the original coronavirus. The Delta variant of the virus has spread fast and wide in the United Kingdom, with over 38,000 cases being recorded in the past 30 days. This variation of the virus spreads significantly easier than the original COVID-19 virus and is more likely to lead to hospitalization.

The Gamma variant of the virus has also been labeled a concern by the World Health Organization. First discovered in Brazil, the COVID strain has spread across the world and has over 11,000 cases in the US.

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Other variants of the virus have developed an increased level of immunity to vaccines. “The current vaccine doesn’t do a great job against these other variants,” Desai said. “I would say it does a good job not a great job.”

Part of the solution is to provide more booster doses to increase vaccine effectiveness, Desai said. Currently, booster doses for COVID-19 have not been a part of the vaccination effort, though speculation and testing have existed for months.

For countries struggling with the variants, “their best shot at [protecting their populations] is to get vaccinations out there and available as quickly as possible,” Desai said. “And if and when that booster dose becomes available, [the countries should] start including that in the messaging right up front as well.”

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