The World Health Organisation says the approved vaccines are very likely effective against new variants of COVID-19.
The world health body disclosed this in a video posted on its YouTube channel on Friday.
Answering questions about COVID-19 vaccines, variants, and herd immunity, WHO’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan says the approved vaccines offer protection against severe disease hospitalisation and death.
She said “The good thing is there are a lot of vaccines in development but there are currently a few that have completed clinical trials and that have had regulatory approval for use in countries.
“The good thing about all of these vaccines which have been approved is that they offer a lot of protection against severe disease hospitalisation and death and that is what we want.
“We want to prevent people from getting sick and going into hospital.
“We’re still learning how effectively these vaccines protect against mild disease or asymptomatic infection.
“With the variants that have been described from various countries, people are asking these questions because some data are showing that vaccines may be less effective in preventing some of these variants.
“However, even in those countries, all of the vaccines that have been approved still are very likely to protect against severe disease and hospitalisation and death.”
Swaminathan noted that those who have been prioritised must get their vaccines first to prevent people from getting ill or dying from the virus.
“What is important now is for people in countries who have been prioritised in those risk groups – the health workers, the frontline workers, the elderly and others who have been prioritised must get their vaccines because what we want is to prevent people from getting really ill or dying from COVID-19,” she said.
On what future vaccines will look like, the scientist said the agency looks forward to having a single-dose vaccine that can be stored at room temperature.
“What we are looking forward to is the next generation of vaccines that will be single-dose, that can be stored at room temperature, that is safe for use in pregnant women, that can be taken orally and will provide long-lasting immunity.
“So, there’s all of these vaccines in development.
“With the news about the variants and the fact that some mutations in these variants seem to prevent the antibody binding to the virus as compared to the white type virus.
“What is also happening now is that vaccine manufacturers and developers are working on the next generation of vaccines, using the same platform but incorporating the new protein which has the mutation of interest that have been incorporated. So, that the antibodies are now developed to this new form of the spike protein,” she said.
She added that WHO is working with regulators around the world to determine when vaccine change will be needed and what clinical and immunological data developers will need to provide for vaccines to be certified for wide use.
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