SubscribeSign in
The Forever Virus
A Strategy for the Long Fight Against COVID-19
By
Larry Brilliant, Lisa Danzig, Karen Oppenheimer, Agastya Mondal, Rick Bright, and W. Ian Lipkin
July/August 2021
At a vaccination center in Belgrade, Serbia, March 2021
Zorana Jevtic / Reuters
It is time to say it out loud: the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic is not going away. SARS-CoV-2 cannot be eradicated, since it is already growing in more than a dozen different animal species. Among humans, global herd immunity, once promoted as a singular solution, is unreachable. Most countries simply don’t have enough vaccines to go around, and even in the lucky few with an ample supply, too many people are refusing to get the shot. As a result, the world will not reach the point where enough people are immune to stop the virus’s spread before the emergence of dangerous variants—ones that are more transmissible, vaccine resistant, and even able to evade current diagnostic tests. Such supervariants could bring the world back to square one. It might be 2020 all over again.
Rather than die out, the virus will likely ping-pong back and forth across the globe for years to come. Some of yesterday’s success stories are now vulnerable to serious outbreaks. Many of these are places that kept the pandemic at bay through tight border controls and excellent testing, tracing, and isolation but have been unable to acquire good vaccines. Witness Taiwan and Vietnam,
Finish reading this article for free.
Enter your email and we'll send a paywall-free link directly to your inbox.
In addition to your unlocked article, you will receive our flagship weekly newsletter Foreign Affairs This Week, as well as occasional updates and offers from Foreign Affairs. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, visit our user agreement and privacy policy.
Get unlimited access to all Foreign Affairs. Subscribe now.
Are you already a subscriber? Sign in.
LARRY BRILLIANT is an epidemiologist, CEO of Pandefense Advisory, a firm that helps organizations respond to COVID-19, and Senior Counselor at the Skoll Foundation.
LISA DANZIG is an infectious disease physician, a vaccine expert, and an Adviser at Pandefense Advisory.
KAREN OPPENHEIMER is a global health strategy and operations adviser and a Principal at Pandefense Advisory.
AGASTYA MONDAL is a doctoral student in epidemiology and computational biology at the University of California, Berkeley.
RICK BRIGHT is Senior Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation and former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Preparedness and Response.
W. IAN LIPKIN is Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity and John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University, Founding Director of the Global Alliance for Preventing Pandemics, and an Adviser at Pandefense Advisory.
MORE BY LARRY BRILLIANT
MORE BY LISA DANZIG
MORE BY KAREN OPPENHEIMER
MORE BY AGASTYA MONDAL
MORE BY RICK BRIGHT
MORE BY W. IAN LIPKIN
More:
United States World Politics & Society U.S. Foreign Policy Biden AdministrationCoronavirus Vaccines
Recommended Articles
Women Are the Key to Vaccinating the World
The Lessons of Pakistan’s Inoculation Strategy
Manish Sreevatsava
The Pandemic That Won’t End
COVID-19 Variants and the Peril of Vaccine Inequity
Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker
GET THE MAGAZINE
Save up to 55%
on Foreign Affairs magazine!
Subscribe
FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Weekly Newsletter
Get in-depth analysis delivered right to your inbox
ABOUT
CONTACT
SUBSCRIPTION
FOLLOW
GRADUATE SCHOOL FORUM
From the
publishers of
Foreign Affairs
The Most:
RecentSharedViewed
Malaysia Faces Crises on All Levels
by Joshua Kurlantzick
Five Movies Worth Watching About Conflict at Sea
by James M. Lindsay
A Conversation with Catharine A. MacKinnon: Prostitution as Sex Work or Sexual Exploitation?
by Catherine Powell
Published by the Council on Foreign Relations
Privacy Policy Terms of Use
©2021 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.
Subscribe for unrestricted access.
Explore Current Issue Archive Books & Reviews Anthologies Newsletters Search Subscribe