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A year of Covid-19 in SA: If the virus evolves, we may need new vaccines to combat its spread

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Mar 5, 2021

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DURBAN: If the coronavirus continues to evolve, this might pose a challenge to countries, as it would mean people would have to receive new vaccinations in order to combat the spread of Covid-19.

According to Professor Salim Abdool Karim, it is going to take a long time for people to be able to live “normal” lives again.

"Unless there was a change in technology or research teams find a way to deal with variants, the challenge is that we may have to take new shots as the virus evolves over time," he said.

Karim, who co-chairs the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19, was speaking during a media briefing yesterday, reflecting on the first positive case of Covid-19 that was discovered in SA, a year ago.

Karim said he was concerned that, if this should happen, richer countries will be able to afford to make and buy new vaccines and, in turn, vaccinate their people.

"For poor countries, we cannot keep doing that. It will take a long time just to vaccinate the country once, let alone administering another vaccine. I am hoping that we don't have to go down that road. If we do, we will create a two-world scenario, where countries that can afford to will get new vaccines and others that cannot, won't," he said.

Karim said every time the virus copies itself, there is a risk of a variant.

"We’ve got to manage the pandemic and find a solution to create vaccine equity, and vaccinate all countries at a similar rate. We should think of suppressing this globally," he said.

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