Covid: According to epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, “we’re closer to the beginning than we are to the end”

Published by Caroline J. · Updated on 10 August 2021 at 15h27 · Published on 10 August 2021 at 12h38
This is a small sentence likely to set the world on fire. Interviewed by CNBC, American epidemiologist Larry Brilliant considers, “we’re closer to the beginning than we are to the end” of the coronavirus pandemic. “Unless we vaccinate everyone in 200 plus countries, there will still be new variants”, he added.

Although some scientists intend to be rather reassuring as for exiting the health crisis, others do not hesitate to express their pessimism. This is the case of Larry Brilliant. Interviewed on CNBC as for the likely end of the coronavirus pandemic, the epidemiologist – that used to be part of the WHO’s team and helped eradicate smallpox – was not very reassuring. “I think we’re closer to the beginning than we are to the end [of the pandemic], and that’s not because the variant that we’re looking at right now is going to last that long”, he said a few days ago. And the specialist took his thoughts a step further: “unless we vaccinate everyone in 200 plus countries, there will still be new variants”, he thought.

Although vaccination goes on in many countries around the world, it is still not enough for many countries struggling to get first doses of vaccine. According to Brilliant, only 15% of the world’s population is vaccinated, and about a hundred countries only vaccinated 5% of their people.

According to data collected by Unicef, a major part of countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia indeed vaccinated less than 5% of their populations. Data are even more worrying in Congo, Chad, Southern Sudan, where less than 1% of the inhabitants have been given at least one dose.

Even worse, early July, five countries (Burundi, Erythre, Haiti, North Korea and Tanzania) in the 194 State Members of the World Health Organization did not event started vaccinating their population. WHO then condemned a “two-speed pandemic, fed by disparity”.

We need an urgent reversal, from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries, to the majority going to low-income countries”, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said this past August 7 to journalists.

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