Alternative B.1.1.7 poses a challenge for school education
The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) news last week brought a mixture of hope and concern, especially as new variants rage across Europe. The good news: Pfizer / BioNTech has released key data from its COVID-19 vaccine trial in children ages 12 to 15 that has shown 100% efficacy. Vaccines continue to be given to the American public, with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the arms of 100 million adults.
However, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, gave an emotional press conference on March 29, 2021, where she acknowledged her grave concern about the possible fourth outbreak of the disease. In the April 4 NBC episode of “Meet the Press,” Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, discussed what the fourth outbreak and variations could mean for children.
Osterholm focused on the B.1.1.7 variant, known colloquially as the UK variant, when examining the impending outbreak, noting that unlike the initial strain of COVID-19, the variant appears to be a lot more infectious in children and more likely to lead to disease. He noted that although he has been a supporter of back to school education, the variant has caused him to reconsider his position, as more than 700 schools in his state of Minnesota have had cases of COVID. -19, variant B.1.1.7 in the last 2 weeks.
He also spoke of the inequity in the distribution of the vaccine, noting that 80% of the vaccines were distributed in only 10 countries. There are 30 countries where no vaccine dose has been administered. He made it clear that if COVID-19 is allowed to work without challenge from vaccines in low- and middle-income countries, the likelihood of an increasing number of more infectious variants, more likely to cause serious disease or more capable of escaping the immune response from a previous infection or vaccine, will occur. Osterholm called for a global response to reduce vaccine inequalities. Find adult chat site here.