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The week

Why the COVID-19 variants could extend the pandemic until 2024

Last week, New York provided a worrying breakdown of events in the Brazilian city of Manaus, whose population was believed to have built extensive protection against the virus last year, only to see another major outbreak. There are theories about how this happened – community immunity is overestimated, antibody protection dwindles, the variant becomes more transmissible, or, perhaps most worryingly, the virus that adapts to antibody bypassing. Anyway, an increasing number of variations like in Brazil could theoretically push back the final. Axios put it a little differently – the current pandemic may almost be over, but the variants could spark new ones. Several vaccines have been shown to work well against the main strain of coronavirus, and the more transmissible UK variant also appears to be very susceptible to them, but the South African variant looks more resistant. And New York notes that even a slight decrease in effectiveness could prevent “vaccination alone” from protecting the population. However, the New York Times states that vaccine effectiveness reports often don’t tell the full story. Scientifically, vaccine research regards any transmission as a failure, but that may not be the most important thing. Novavax and Johnson & Johnson provided data showing that their vaccine candidates weren’t as good at preventing infection in South Africa as elsewhere, but they were still very successful at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death. This suggests a possible scenario in which vaccines reduce the coronavirus to a much milder pathogen. But according to New York that is still not enough worldwide. Even if vaccines significantly reduce the worst COVID-19 results, it is estimated that the poorer countries of the world will not reach mass immunization until 2024. While the tide may turn faster in the U.S., the global pandemic could last for years, especially if variants compromise natural herd immunity. Read more in New York, Axios, and the New York Times. More Stories from theweek.com Rise of Barstool Conservatives Merrick Garland still can’t get a Senate hearing. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez describes how she survived the January 6 attack on the Capitol because she was afraid she would die

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