Questions persist about COVID-19’s ‘chapter two’

More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is at a pivotal moment. While several vaccines have proven be highly effective against the virus, new variants are driving surges in countries including India and Brazil, and parts of the U.S.

“This is probably chapter two in the story of COVID-19, and there’s no way to know how long the book will be,” Michael Mina, assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, said in an April 16, 2021 story in Harvard Medical School news. He noted that it’s not clear how long protective immunity lasts from either natural infection or vaccines. New surges in the U.S. are likely in the fall, he said, and those who received the earliest doses of the vaccines—the elderly and most medically vulnerable—may be the first to lose their immunity. Mina has advocated for widespread deployment of cheap, rapid at-home COVID-19 tests to stem future outbreaks.

Megan Murray, professor in the Department of Epidemiology, was quoted in the same article about the importance of studying why some countries faced dramatically different outcomes from the pandemic than others. She co-authored a study published in February 2021 in BMJ that credited Rwanda’s infection control strategies as a significant factor in the country’s lower-than-expected COVID-19 deaths. Her team is now looking at why Lima, Peru, has had one of the world’s highest COVID-19 mortality rates.

Read the Harvard Medical School news article: The Next Wave