Let’s recap. Post-pandemic learnings.
Eva Rosell, Directora de Proyectos Estratégicos en Barcelona Tech City
- Rafa Vilasanjuan, Director of Global Analysis and Development at Barcelona Institute for Global Health
- Jose Muñoz Gutiérrez, Research Associate Professor (ISGlobal) y Head of International Health Service (Hospital Clínic de Barcelona)
- Joan Bigorra, Director of Strategy and Innovation at ISGlobal and Innovation Advisor at Hospital Clínic de Barcelona.
- Vaccines are a tool for collective protection. No one is safe until everyone is vaccinated.
- More viruses like SARS-CoV-2 may emerge, it is important to continue to put research to good use to keep us healthy.
- The virus does more harm when prevention policies change every week.
- The vaccine passport guarantees safe travel but we need to work towards equal access.
What do we know?
SARS-CoV-2 has gone from an unknown virus to a threat that has changed the world. In one year, facemasks have become a must-have item, global containment has been experienced and more than 3.5 million deaths have been recorded worldwide. Despite the recovery thanks to vaccines, the impact of the coronavirus calls for a cautious assessment. In the words of Joan Bigorra, “it can happen again”. The Director of Strategy and Innovation at ISGlobal and Innovation Advisor at the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona values research and stresses the importance of anticipation to combat situations such as the pandemic. “We have gone from a false sense of security to an urgent sense of vulnerability. We have learned the value of science not only when we need it,” he adds.
It took 333 days from the time the genetic code was deciphered until the first vaccine was introduced. In this almost one year, the health sector has been at the centre of all the debates and has been a determining factor in political decisions. According to Rafa Vilasanjuan, director of Global Analysis and Development at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, the record speed in finding the vaccine “shows that the search is working”.
However, the speakers agree that the changes in the administration’s discourse and the different measures implemented over the last year have shown that “the virus works better when policies are not firm”, Vilasanjuan points out.
Global strategy against the virus
Gradually the population will be immunised by vaccines, but immunity will not be real until it is global. Even if the pace of vaccination in Europe is brisk, the danger of a resurgence will remain as long as vaccines do not reach other countries. This is why a global strategy to combat the virus is needed.
On the one hand, the World Health Organisation (OMS) launched the COVAX initiative in April, which aims to achieve global access to the vaccine. The aim is to curb the pandemic in those countries that cannot compete for patents by ensuring compensation for manufacturers. On the other hand, the vaccine passport is already a reality and, as of 7 June, Spain will participate in a general test in the European Union to implement it. In the words of José Muñoz, a specialist in tropical medicine and international health, “we don’t want to reduce transmission in Europe but leave it uncontrolled outside, where the next variants will emerge. Standardising protocols is key.