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As coronavirus infections and vaccinations surge, Dr Larry Brilliant is ‘worried’ about new variants

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Kuldeep Singh
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Since the beginning of the pandemic, the country has accumulated 553,979 deaths and more than 30 million (30,602,678) cases of the disease.

Dr Larry Brilliant, who helped the world eradicating smallpox, worries new variants could extend the pandemic. His comments come as US public health experts seeing a fourth wave of infections.

The spread of highly contagious new variants of the virus, coupled with prematurely relaxed safety precautions in some places, has set off new alarms especially in New York, where 60 or 70 percent cases of infection belong to new variant.

In reference to the same, CNN’s Erin Burnett asked Dr Brilliant about variants of coronavirus, and whether vaccines will be able to eradicate them.

He replied: “I’m quite worried about the variants.

“We seem to be getting not only many variants but variants of concern almost every week, and we’ve now had a variant that clobbers a vaccine. The AstraZeneca vaccine is 90 percent ineffective against the South African variant.

“We have other variants that re-infect people who’ve had the disease, as in Manaus and Brazil, and as you say we have the UK’s B117 variant; a variant that is not only more transmissible but appears to be creating more morbidity and mortality.”

Later in the interview, Dr Brilliant said countries need a “back-up plan in addition to vaccinating everybody as fast as we can”, citing “outbreak containment” and matching vaccines to certain variants.

In response to ‘booster’ vaccines being developed, he said: “It could be that the booster does it, I’m hopeful that there will be boosters that vaccinate and immunise us from everything since the last vaccine we had.

“But in addition we will have dozens of vaccines, and some will match better against certain variants.

“Just as you said if in New York 60 or 70 percent of the virus is the B117, we should be sure that we’re having a vaccine used there that is effective against that variant.

“And I think that, as the months go by, that’ll become more and more important.”

Speaking to Wired magazine on Thursday, he said he wished he could go back in time as COVID-19 affected people in worse ways than anticipated.

He told the outlet: “The epidemiological part, we got right. Here are the things we didn’t get right: We expected a respiratory disease that killed because it created pneumonia.

“But this disease is systemic. It causes long-haul symptoms, it goes from nose to toes—you lose your sense of smell and your toes get swollen.

“In some cases, it increases the possibility of stroke. And so on.”

The United States has seen 895 deaths from covid-19 in the past 24 hours, in addition to 67,304 new cases, according to the independent count by the American Johns Hopkins University.

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