Why travel can’t fix this year (and tests and masks can stay alive)

Gary Leff at 14. February 2021.

The number of confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to Covid-19 is decreasing. The supply of vaccines in the United States is increasing. Although more infectious virus strains are spreading, it is possible that the virus is entering a quieter period due to seasonal influences. The summer was the peak in the United States, but in the warm areas where it’s hot and people are going inside, and the U.S. population had never been infected with the virus, so there wasn’t much background immunity.

We should be close to overcoming the pandemic, with enough vaccines for everyone in the country (vaccines for adolescents and young adults should even be approved this fall). It’s time to enjoy the return to normal, isn’t it? Not so fast.

There are several scenarios in which the Covid 19 pandemic persists, and we will work from home, send the kids to Zoom School, and avoid most travel even longer.

  • Viral mutations. The South African strain with the E484K (EEK) mutation appears to allow reinfection. Even some vaccines don’t seem to prevent it. AstraZeneca’s vaccine appears to be less effective and the Moderna vaccine’s antibody production is significantly reduced. We’re going to develop new vaccines to fight mutations, hopefully, but we may have to play a little game.
  • And the Chinese vaccine will work best. All major western vaccines are directed against rosehip protein. From mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna to adenovirus vaccines from AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (and even the Russian vaccine Sputnik), vaccines teach the body to recognize and fight the advanced protein. But if the rosehip protein continues to mutate, we may find ourselves on our heels. Wouldn’t it be strange that Sinopharm’s vaccine is the most effective in the world because it uses the old approach of inactivating the virus – but teaching the body to recognize the whole virus has proven far more effective against mutations than focusing only on the peak protein?
  • The virus reappears in the autumn. After a seasonal lull, the virus returns in the fall. Vaccination campaigns have been successful, but their effectiveness has been reduced by mutation (they report an effectiveness of 60%, not 95%), so they continue to spread.
  • Most of the world has not been vaccinated for a long time. This means that the world is still struggling with a coronavirus problem and the virus has hosts all over the world that continue to mutate.
  • Borders remain closed. Or any discovery requires both a vaccination and a negative test. Covid-19 testing is always a part of life, as is mandatory camouflage.

The biomedical advances of the past year have been incredible. We got the vaccine in record time, although it could have been faster. This should further slow the spread, although the virus remains a fact of life. And we also have a treatment for monoclonal antibodies to ivermectin and fluvoxamine. If someone has covidosis next fall, their prognosis should be much better.

We are on the verge of putting the pandemic behind us, but there are stories where that will not be the case for a very, very long time. This is mainly due to mutations that reduce the effectiveness of vaccines (and also the effectiveness of some treatments).

Countries that do not have access to vaccines and treatments, have less capacity in hospitals, or have so far managed to contain the virus and are trying to keep it out of their countries, are keeping their borders closed. So international travel remains a dilemma – not to mention the constant testing requirements that increase the cost and complexity of the process.

Last June, I wrote an optimistic speech that many of us now take for granted: the vaccine could be licensed before the end of 2020, and the summer of 2021 could mark a return to normal. And it could happen, but the odds are still not that good. To get out of the pandemic faster and mutate slowly (with fewer people infected so the virus can mutate), we need to make the first doses first and quickly get the vaccines from Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Novavax approved and available to low priority people.

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