End of Covid in sight! New study says 'global eradication' of virus possible

CORONAVIRUS could be “eradicated” completely from society, according to public health experts who have published their new analysis.

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Scientists say that the complete eradication of COVID-19 across the globe is more “feasible” than it is for polio, but less so than it was for smallpox. Researchers compared the technical, sociopolitical, and economic factors for all three infections and their results were published in the online journal BMJ Global Health. They said eradication was possible thanks to the combination of vaccines, public health measures, and global interest in achieving this goal.

They wrote: “While our analysis is a preliminary effort, with various subjective components, it does seem to put COVID-19 eradicability into the realms of being possible, especially in terms of technical feasibility.”

Eradication was defined as: “‘the permanent reduction to zero of the worldwide incidence of infection caused by a specific agent as a result of deliberate efforts.”

Comparing COVID-19 with two other viral scourges for which vaccines were or are available – smallpox and polio – they compared a number of different factors.

These included the availability of a safe and effective vaccine, lifelong immunity, impact of public health measures, effective government management of infection control messaging, political and public concerns, and public acceptance of infection control measures.

COVID-19 could soon be eradicated globally

COVID-19 could soon be eradicated globally (Image: GETTY)

The world has taken unprecedented steps

The world has taken unprecedented steps (Image: GETTY)

Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980 and two out of the three serotypes of poliovirus have also been eradicated globally.

The average (total) scores in the analysis added up to 2.7 (43/48) for smallpox, 1.6 (28/51) for COVID-19, and 1.5 (26/51) for polio.

For COVID-19, the experts said the main challenges will be securing sufficiently high vaccine coverage and being able to respond quickly enough to variants that may evade immunity.

But, they added: “Nevertheless, there are of course limits to viral evolution, so we can expect the virus to eventually reach peak fitness, and new vaccines can be formulated.

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Scientists say our efforts could pay off

Scientists say our efforts could pay off (Image: GETTY)

“Other challenges would be the high upfront costs (for vaccination and upgrading health systems), and achieving the necessary international cooperation in the face of vaccine nationalism and government-mediated anti-science aggression.”

The experts believe that the massive scale of the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 in most of the world has generated “unprecedented global interest in disease control and massive investment in vaccination against the pandemic”.

Unlike smallpox and polio, the fight against COVID-19 benefits from the added impact of public health measures, such as border controls, social distancing, contact tracing and mask-wearing.

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Vaccines will play a major part in the recovery

Vaccines are playing a major part in the recovery (Image: GETTY)

Following Government advice is also key

Following Government advice is also key (Image: GETTY)

They continued: “Collectively these factors might mean that an ‘expected value’ analysis could ultimately estimate that the benefits outweigh the costs, even if eradication takes many years and has a significant risk of failure.”

The researchers acknowledge that their study is preliminary, and more extensive in-depth work is required.

They called for the WHO to formally review the feasibility and desirability of attempting COVID-19 eradication.

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