HeathcareSummary 2021: the year of vaccines, variants and new...

Summary 2021: the year of vaccines, variants and new alternatives against cancer


In 2021, the second year of the pandemic of COVID-19, ends this Friday with practically 80% of the Peruvian target population vaccinated, but with the fear of a new wave due to the Ómicron and Delta variants after the end of the year parties.

The situation regarding 2020 is much better, however: today we have vaccines, more knowledge about the disease and treatments on the way. In the coming months, millions of schoolchildren will return to classes and

But pandemic fatigue is especially affecting citizens, generating serious mental health problems either because of fear of the virus or because of the exhaustion generated by this new normal, in which living with the virus has modified even the most basic routines.

The vaccination process against COVID-19, the most massive in the history of mankind, but which, in turn, Beyond the covid, in 2021 the world has witnessed the approval of a novel drug against cancer of metastatic breast and the recognition of the scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian, winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

When it comes to immunization against COVID-19, most countries started vaccinating at the end of the year. Although the United States and the United Kingdom began their strategy in early December, the date chosen in the European Union was December 27, when the Pfizer / BioNTech serum began to be inoculated, the first vaccine approved a few days before by the Agency. European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Shortly after, on January 6, the EMA authorized the vaccine from the American laboratory Moderna, which would be joined by other approvals such as AstraZeneca, on January 29, and Janssen, on March 11. The latest, Novavax, was approved on December 20. Around the same time, the World Health Organization (WHO)

However, while the western world was vaccinated, which, in mid-July, had not yet vaccinated not even its health personnel. This was especially the case in most African countries and some in Latin America.

So much so that the director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned in August that in rich countries they were already administering 100 doses for every 100 people. “Meanwhile, low-income countries inoculate 1.5 doses per 100 people due to lack of vaccines,” lamented Tedros, who urged rich countries to donate doses through the COVAX mechanism.

That is why, at that time, the WHO also appealed to high-income countries to ask to delay the inoculation of booster doses, which were already beginning to be discussed to complete the immunization of the elderly and immunocompromised people, until end of september. The purpose was to arrive at the end of that month with and, in December, that all countries would have vaccinated 40 percent of their population.

However, 2021 ends this Friday and that purpose has not been achieved, as Tedros himself announced at a press conference this Wednesday. “92 Member States out of 194 did not meet the 40 percent target, which was feasible. This is due to a limited supply mix going to low-income countries for most of the year as vaccines arrive near expiration and without key parts like syringes. “ criticized, to qualify this fact as “moral shame.”

New variants of the coronavirus

Illustration of antibodies attacking SARS CoV-2.  (SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)

In this sense, Tedros has been insisting, throughout the year, on the idea that, while countries remain unvaccinated, new ones will continue to appear that will make it difficult to end the pandemic.

This is what happened in May with the spread of the Delta variant, much more contagious than the original virus and which, in a short time, became the dominant worldwide. On the other hand, at the end of November, the WHO called “Omicron” a variant identified for the first time in South Africa, characterized by being even more contagious than Delta and which, probably, will soon become the majority worldwide.

Beyond COVID-19

Although the names of the discoverers of the vaccines against COVID-19 were sounding as possible winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine 2021, finally it was the scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian who were jointly honored for their “Discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch.”

Julius has used capsaicin, a pungent compound in chili that induces a burning sensation, to identify a sensor in the skin’s nerve endings that responds to heat. For its part, Patapoutian has used pressure-sensitive cells to discover a new class of sensors that respond to

In this way, their discoveries answer the question of how thermal and mechanical stimuli are converted into electrical impulses in the nervous system.

Hope for metastatic breast cancer

Breast cancer is curable when detected early.  (Photo: IStock)

2021 has also been a year of hope for other diseases, such as breast cancer, for whose treatment an innovative drug has been approved, ” (trastuzumab deruxtecan), by Daiichi Sankyo, indicated for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

Specifically, ‘Enhertu’ slows the progression of the disease in 75.8% of patients at 12 months and makes the evidence of the tumor disappear in 16% of cases. In this regard, experts have clarified that “disappearing” is not synonymous with “cure”, but refers to the tumor “becomes chronic”, which improves the quality of life of these women.

The first results were presented at the presidential session of ESMO Congress 2021, by the hand of the study ‘DESTINY Breast-03’. These data are limited to patients with HER2 positive breast cancer; specifically, to pre-treated patients, that is, with metastases and in whom the rest of the treatments have not worked. Thus, this drug gives these patients two years of disease control, compared to the current 6-7 months.

With information from Europa Press

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