The COVID-19 Study: The authors evaluated the feasibility of eliminating COVID-19, which is defined as the “permanent reduction in the worldwide frequency of infection by a pathogen as a result of targeted efforts to zero.”
Global COVID-19 eradication more feasible than polio: Study
According to an analysis published Tuesday in BMJ Global Health, global eradication of COVID-19 is more feasible than polio, but much less so than smallpox.
Public health experts from the University of Otago Wellington in New Zealand note that vaccinations, public health interventions and global interest in achieving this goal have eradicated COVID-19.
However, the main challenges are ensuring sufficiently high vaccination coverage and responding quickly enough to SARS-CoV-2 variants that escape the immune system, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The authors evaluated the feasibility of eliminating COVID-19, which is defined as “the permanent reduction to zero in the global frequency of infection caused by a specific pathogen as a result of conscious effort.”
They compared it to two other viral pests for which vaccines have been made – smallpox and polio – using a number of technical, social, political, and economic factors likely to help achieve this goal.
The authors used a three-point scoring system for each of the 17 variables, including availability of a safe and effective vaccine, lifelong immunity, impact of public health measures, and effective government management of infection control messages.
They said the average score in the analysis was 2.7 for smallpox, 1.6 for COVID-19 and 1.5 for polio.
Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, and two of the three serotypes of poliovirus have been eradicated worldwide.
“Our analysis with different subjective components appears to bring the possibility of COVID-19 eradication into the realm of the possible, especially in terms of technical feasibility,” the authors wrote in the study.
They acknowledge that technical challenges in eliminating COVID-19 versus smallpox and polio include weak vaccine adoption and the emergence of more transmissible variants that bypass immunity and possibly bypass global vaccination programmes.
“However, the evolution of the virus is of course limited, so we can assume that the virus will eventually reach its peak and that new vaccines can be formulated,” the authors explained.
“Other challenges we face are the high cost of vaccination and the modernization of health systems,” they added.
The researchers also suggest that persistence of the virus in animal reservoirs could also thwart eradication efforts, but they add that this does not appear to be a serious problem.
On the other hand, they realized that there was a universal will to fight infection.
The massive health, social, and economic impact of COVID-19 in most parts of the world has sparked “unprecedented global interest in disease control and massive investments in pandemic vaccination,” according to the authors.
I put my trust in smallpox And polio, COVID-19 is also benefiting from the added impact of public health measures such as border control, social distancing, contact tracing and wearing masks, which can be very effective if used correctly.
Taken together, these factors could mean that an ‘expected value’ analysis can ultimately estimate that the benefits outweigh the costs, even if eradication takes many years and has a high risk of failure,” the authors added.