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Vaccines against Variants: Nobel Prize Laureate Prof. Peter Doherty on Delta variant dangers Updated: 2021-07-15 09:02:47 KST

Despite vaccination efforts, cases of COVID-19 continue to grow and deaths are on the rise again, with the new Delta variant hitting over 104 countries.
The World Health Oganization expects the new variant to become the dominant COVID-19 strain circulating globally. Amid these concerns, we connect to world-renowned immunologist Peter C. Doherty, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1996.
An Australian immunologist and professor at the University of Melbourne, Peter C. Doherty's Nobel Prize-winning research revealed how our immune systems recognize virally infected cells.
Dr. Doherty, welcome back to Global Insight.

You were planning to step back from your commitments at the Doherty Institute but since the pandemic broke out, scientists and governments have been knocking on your door. What has the last year of the pandemic been like for you?

How did your vaccination go?

3. Since we first spoke about a year ago, fortunately, vaccines have been developed and are now being administered in both our countries but they are going rather slowly and there are these fast-moving variants emerging. Does that mean the longer people have to wait to get vaccinated, the less effective vaccines will be? Are you worried about the speed of vaccinations falling behind the speed of mutations?

4. The Delta variant has become the dominant strain in most countries and now there's talk about the Lambda variant making its way around the world from South America. How do new variants affect the immune system? Do mutations make the illness more serious?

5. In countries like Israel, where they declared a return to masklessness after a very speedy vaccination of the population, it seems people there are still getting infected by new variants. Some say the target for herd immunity needs to be raised to at least 80% would you agree? How should public health measures be adjusted to tackle the emergence of new variants?

England is ending all precautionary measures from Monday, meaning no facial masks are required and social interactions, travel, and work are unrestricted. Israel, however, is extending the use of indoor masks and might reintroduce more measures. How should reopening be timed and executed? What precautions should be taken, even among mostly vaccinated populations?

Will we see more strong mutations of the virus emerge? How and where do significant mutations of COVID-19 tend to occur, and is there a way to stop them?

In your book in 2013, you wrote about how pandemics come about and how increased travel and globalization mean they disseminate with incredible speed. We clearly didn’t listen properly the first time round. How should we prepare for the next one?

You said “When it comes to pandemics, climate change and so forth, we have to grasp that those fates are shared by all people, everywhere across the planet.” What do you hope human beings will learn from this crisis?

That's where we have to leave it for today. Nobel prize laureate and renowned immunologist and professor at the University of Melbourne, Peter C. Doherty, thank you for your insights.

Reporter : osy@arirang.com
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