12th Apr, 2021

Coventry University virologist: 'Worldwide effort needed to tackle global pandemic'

A VIROLOGIST from Coventry University said Covid-19 was a global pandemic and the vaccination programme must also be a worldwide effort.

The calls from Dr Phillip Gould came amidst disputes and concerns over supplies of both the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines across the EU.

He said: “It’s no good just tackling it in individual countries – we need to get as many people around the world vaccinated, including the countries struggling to afford it.

“However many people have the jab in the UK, the virus will still be circulating around the world.”

Dr Gould said the vaccine’s development was the most incredible thing he had seen in 20 years as a virologist.

“The infrastructure to create it is vast, not to mention the new technologies which have come out as well – we will reap the benefits of those when it comes to tweaking the vaccine against different variants.

“And at the same time they are being varied, pressure will be on to make even more.”

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine sees a harmless part of the virus inserted via the jab which the patient’s body stores and builds up an immunity to over the following two to three weeks. Then when the body encounters the virus again it knows to fight it.

Dr Gould said: “When you are dealing with something new that is live and biological, there will be hiccups and they will cause delays.

“There are so many variables during the manufacturing process, especially when improvements are being made all the time, like they are here.

“There is also the packaging – for example there was a shortage of the glass vials needed to put the vaccines in.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed the top four priority groups – some 15million people – would all have been offered their first vaccine dose by February 15. So far almost 7million people have received a first dose and 500,000 of those the second one.

Dr Gould added he was confident supply problems would be sorted out and said it was phenomenal so many people had been vaccinated in such a short space of time.

He paid tribute to everyone involved.

“Trials usually take years but as we’re in a pandemic, there were plenty of cases and suddenly, because everyone realised how serious it was, we had 20,000 cohorts from all over the world come forward.

“As well as the scientists, they should also be really proud of themselves and how they have helped speed up the process.”

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