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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Some experts say the world may only have a year or less to stave off a new round of COVID-19 variants that could evade the existing vaccines, according to survey conducted by advocates trying to speed up vaccinations in developing nations.

Why it matters: Variants emerge when viruses spread widely, so quickly vaccinating the entire world is the best way to curb new variants. But some experts are afraid we won't get there fast enough.

The big picture: Much of the developing world won't have widespread access to COVID vaccines until next year, if not later — giving new variants time to form, and to spread.

  • In a survey of 77 epidemiologists, about two-thirds said the world likely has a year or less before the virus changes so much that existing vaccines wouldn't be effective against the new strains.
  • That would require booster shots or new vaccines.
  • The survey was sponsored by the People's Vaccine Alliance, an organization that wants to strip some intellectual property protections from vaccine makers in the hopes of producing more doses.

What they're saying: “The virus doesn’t respect borders and new variants somewhere on the planet mean none of us are safe," Gregg Gonsalves, associate professor of epidemiology at Yale University, said in the survey.

Methodology: The survey was carried out between February 17 and March 25, 2021. Survey respondents include epidemiologists, virologists and infection disease specialists in 28 countries.

Go deeper

Updated Mar 30, 2021 - World

WHO chief: Virus investigators had difficulties "accessing raw data" from China

Photo: Peace One Day via Getty Images

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the joint WHO-China report on the origins of the coronavirus on Tuesday, but he noted that scientists had difficulty "accessing raw data" from China and called for further investigation of the lab leak theory.

Why it matters: The comments come in the wake of an inconclusive report that has prompted concerns about transparency and the influence of the Chinese government over the investigation.

Mar 30, 2021 - World

U.S. women won’t reach pay equity with men for at least 60 years

Data: WEF; Chart: Axios Visuals

Despite some progress, it will take women in North America approximately 61.5 years to have economic parity with men according to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report for 2021.

Why it matters: Women in the U.S. have made strides in political representation, but they still lag behind men in job market participation and income, according to the report.