For most of the world, the pandemic is not over

By Devi Sridhar
Sun 29 Aug 2021

The Delta variant of Sars-CoV-2 is causing major problems across the world. Estimated to be at least twice as transmissible as the original virus, it is challenging the measures that governments took in 2020. Thailand and South Korea are seeing accelerating cases and deaths, after having successfully managed their epidemics last year. New Zealand and Australia find themselves in snap lockdowns. Low- and middle-income countries are struggling to keep their hospitals from collapsing. Delta has changed the game radically: it is almost like managing a whole new virus.

Though, while much of the world struggles, life seems almost normal in Britain. London nightclubs are full of those partying and enjoying themselves without a care in the world. Festivals are going ahead with tens of thousands of revellers. After incessant daily media coverage, Covid-19 has fallen off the front pages, receding into the background. Observing this, it feels as if the pandemic is over for most people.

The game-changer in Britain has been vaccination. When the first vaccine trial results were reported, the efficacy was much higher than anyone expected. And early studies from Scotland indicated that the Pfizer vaccine was even effective at stopping transmission. This gave real hope for using a vaccine to suppress the virus or reach a “herd immunity” threshold at which it would stop circulating. It’s true that Delta changed the picture again.

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