BioScience Trends. 2021;15(4):196-200. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2021.01261)

Rapid evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic calls for a unified public health response

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The globe has witnessed the rapid evolution of SARS-CoV-2 mutations and emerging variants of concern (VOCs) and variants of interest (VOIs) that have broadly impacted the transmissibility, antigenicity, morbidity, and mortality of the virus. Although around 2.5 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, vaccine coverage remains far behind the minimum threshold needed to achieve herd immunity overall and it varies substantially by country. Many countries, and especially low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), are struggling with access to COVID-19 vaccines and a lack of personnel to perform mass vaccination. Effective nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are also not unanimously accepted and strictly complied with by the public and local communities. Moreover, the global fight against COVID-19 is and continues to face geopolitical, social, economic, and human rights concerns. Taken together, these circumstances call for a unified public health response with well-organized individual, local, national, and global efforts and actions to achieve success in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic and achieving sustainable health and development goals.

KEYWORDS: SARS-CoV-2; evolution; vaccine; NPIs; unified public health response

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