The SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease, was first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the disease a pandemic in January, 2020.
So far, every nation has suffered the ravages of the virus in terms of death, sickness and its devastation on economies as nations have to expend so much money to protect citizens and initiate interventions for them while seeking ways to provide a cure for this enemy threatening the lives of all mankind.
Happily, though there is no cure now, there are vaccines that reduce the strength of the virus to between 20 and 30-per cent potency, which is why even those who have taken jabs of the vaccines are advised to continue to adhere to the COVID-19 safety protocol, including such measures as wearing nose masks, washing hands under running water, sanitising the hands, good personal hygiene and healthy eating.
What is, however, most worrying about the so-called novel virus is that ever since its emergence, it has continued to mutate and produce variants of itself.
The Head of the West Africa Centre for Cell Biology and Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) of the University of Ghana, Professor Gordon Awendare, has confirmed that there are 45 variants of COVID-19 and that the latest, the Delta strain, first detected in India, has currently been identified in Ghana and that it is very aggressive.
For its nature, some people say the existent vaccines cannot combat the pandemic at all, while others like Prof. Awendare are calling for a shift to more potent vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna, as the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V ones may not be entirely effective against the variant.
However, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) says the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines remain effective against the new Delta (Indian) variant of the coronavirus.
While the Ghanaian Times does not have the expertise to join the debate, it can only say the GHS statement is good news but Prof. Awendare’s suggestion must not be discounted or discarded and consigned to the trash can.
It is also good news that the Delta variant is in Ghana but has not resulted in community spread so far as those who ‘import’ it into the country are ‘apprehended’ at the ports and isolated for control.
The GHS, making reference to studies, say both the Oxford AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines are more effective against the Delta variant of coronavirus compared to other COVID-19 vaccines.
Meanwhile, the WHO says the vaccines currently approved and even those being developed are expected to provide some protection against new virus variants because these vaccines elicit a broad immune response involving a range of antibodies and cells, which make changes or mutations in the virus completely ineffective.
It adds that in the event that any of these vaccines prove to be less effective against one or more variants, it will be possible to change their composition to protect against these variants.
The Ghanaian Times can only say since the medical science experts are constantly observing COVID-19 and all the related virus variants, including the Delta one, the world can be assured there is hope to win the fight against the pandemic.
However, while we wait, we all must know that COVID-19 is real and so we must observe all the safety measures.