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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

AT&T mandates COVID vaccination for most unionized workers

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

AT&T expanded its COVID-19 vaccine mandate Wednesday to employees who are members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union.

Why it matters: The communications giant is one of the biggest employers in the U.S. to require frontline workers to be vaccinated against the virus. The union said it represents some 90,000 AT&T workers, per AP.

Sep 29, 2021 - Health

CDC issues urgent advisory calling on pregnant people to get COVID vaccine

Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

The CDC issued "an urgent health advisory" on Wednesday urging people who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Why it matters: The CDC said it "strongly recommends" vaccination because its benefits for a pregnant person and the fetus outweigh the risks. It added that pregnant people with COVID-19 are at "increased risk" of outcomes such as preterm birth, stillbirth and admission of a newborn into the ICU.

YouTube cracks down on anti-vax misinformation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

YouTube is beefing up its misinformation policies to crack down on anti-vaccine misinformation beyond COVID-19 vaccinations, executives told Axios.

Why it matters: Under the new policy, YouTube will terminate the channels of what it calls prominent vaccine misinformation spreaders, including the channel of the Robert F. Kennedy Jr.-affiliated Children's Health Defense.