Epidemiologist Who Helped Eradicate Smallpox Issues Serious Warning About Variants

Larry Brilliant, during the interview on CNN. (Photo: CNN)

Larry Brilliant is one of the most listened to voices in the world when it comes to pandemics. The 76-year-old epidemiologist was one of those responsible for the smallpox eradication program and more recently he was the main scientific advisor on the film Contagion, which for many predicted the coronavirus epidemic.

Now, the expert has been concerned about the new variants of the coronavirus and has insisted on the need to have a backup plan that is not based solely on vaccines to control the pandemic.

“I’m quite concerned about the variants,” Brilliant admitted in an interview on CNN before recalling that, for example, the AstraZeneca vaccine is 90% ineffective against the South African variant. Furthermore, the variant seen for the first time in Brazil may allow reinfection, while the British one is clearly more contagious.

“I think we have to have a backup plan in addition to vaccinating everyone as quickly as possible,” warned Brilliant. “I think we have to improve a lot in the containment of outbreaks, detect diseases, find them, isolate them and vaccinate them with the vaccine that matches the variant that our genomics tells us they have,” he urged.

The expert has shown that he is confident that the next vaccines and the updates of the existing ones will completely immunize, but has qualified: “In addition, we will have dozens of vaccines and some will better coincide with certain variants.”

That’s why Brilliant has anticipated that effectively matching the right vaccine to the right strain “will become increasingly important” in the coming months.

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This article originally appeared on The HuffPost and has been updated.