Flinders University School of Medicine and Public Health professor Nikolai Petrovsky spoke exclusively to Republic TV where he elaborated on the newer variants of COVID-19 and how 'immunoescape' was turning out to be a serious problem across the world.
"The main issue right now is the new variants emerging. These are able to get around the immunity that has been developed by newly recovered patients. This is immunoescape. The problem is that COVID is mutating and getting around that and people are getting infected and in some cases more seriously the second time. A lot of these strains are resistant to antibodies and even against certain vaccines that don't protect against the new variant, Immunoescape is a serious problem," shared Petrovsky.
Another challenge that the professor expanded on was how COVID-19 vaccines were showcasing different efficacies in different countries due to the ever-mutating variant. "Vaccine that might be effective in one country might not be effective in another. That is another challenge right now."
Discussing how India could ramp up the production of COVID-19 vaccines, he said, "In India where there are enough vaccine manufacturers, there is still not enough capability. The world has to invest in a lot more vaccine capability and we need better technology that can produce more doses of vaccine quickly."
Speaking on the need for nations to direct their vaccine supply to countries like India which were facing the second Coronavirus wave, Nikolai Petrovsky stated that it was important to save the maximum number of lives.
"Some countries have more need for vaccines than others. In places like India, there is a crisis and many people are dying. I am urging the Australian government to supply all vaccines to countries that need it. We do need to look at where the vaccines are needed and where they will save the most lives. We are not interested in providing vaccines in US, Australia but in places like India where they will have the most impact," he said.
The professor also spoke about the highly-debated TRIPS waiver opining that a patent had nothing to do with the diminished supply of COVID-19 vaccines. Very recently, United States extended support to the waiver of patents for COVID-19 vaccines, a proposal tabled by India and South Africa last year.
"The reason why there is not enough supply is that there are not enough COVID vaccines because the government have not been investing in building factories for the last 20 years. Another thing is that the supply chain and the raw materials and chemicals needed are running out. Intellectual property is not the problem," he added.
On his cooperation with Indian companies to expand vaccine production he said, "We are very close to setting up a joint venture with one of your leading vaccine companies in the next few weeks. My desire is to make the vaccine available to as many countries as possible and particularly countries like India."