66% disease experts believe coronavirus variants will make vaccines ineffective within 1 year, survey finds

Most experts believe that coronavirus variants will render vaccines ineffective within one year, a new survey has found.

The People’s Vaccine Alliance said 66 percent of epidemiologists, virologists and infectious disease specialists say they think that within 12 months, the virus will mutate to such a degree that first-generation vaccines will be useless at preventing infection.

Of that group, nearly one-fifth believe it would occur within six months and one-third said within nine months. Fewer than one in eight doctors said they believed that mutations would never make the vaccines currently available ineffective.

‘The more the virus circulates, the more likely it is that mutations and variants will emerge, which could make our current vaccines ineffective,’ Dr Devi Sridhar, professor of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland – one of the epidemiologists surveyed, said in a statement.

‘At the same time, poor countries are being left behind without vaccines and basic medical supplies like oxygen.

‘As we’ve learned, viruses don’t care about borders. We have to vaccinate as many people as possible, everywhere in the world, as quickly as possible. Why wait and watch instead of getting ahead of this?’

The group that carried out the survey, the People’s Vaccine Alliance, is a coalition of more than 50 organisations such as African Alliance, Oxfam and UNAIDS.

For the survey, which was published on Tuesday, the group interviewed 77 epidemiologists between February 17 and March 25 from 28 countries around the world.

A total of 66.2 percent believe the world has one year or less before mutations render vaccines ineffective.

Within that group, 18.2 percent think this will occur in six months or less and 32.5 percent say nine months or less.

Another 18.2 percent said they believe it will be at least two years before the coronavirus mutates to such a degree that vaccines no longer protect.

An optimistic 7.8 percent said they believed mutations would never cause vaccines to become ineffective while the remaining 7.8 percent said they were unsure about a time estimate.

18.2 percent thought we had 2 years or more before mutations render the current vaccines ineffective and new or modified vaccines are required.

At least three coronavirus vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-University of Oxford, are currently working on booster shots