CANBERRA, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- An Australian infectious diseases expert has warned that it could take six years to vaccinate the world against COVID-19.
In an address to the National Press Club (NPC), Sanjaya Senanayake -- an infectious disease physician and associate professor at Australian National University's medical school -- said that just 10 percent of people in the world's 70 poorest countries would be vaccinated by the end of 2021.
He warned that the countries that have begun their vaccine programs would not benefit from their rollouts until immunization in those foreign countries was boosted.
"At the current rate of vaccination, it is estimated we won't reach global coverage of 75 percent with vaccines for about six years," Senanayake said on Wednesday. "Not one or two years, but six."
"If we continue this global vaccine rollout while in other parts of the world infection continues unchecked, then we will see more sinister strains emerge which might have further impacts on vaccine efficacy.
"Therefore, if you were a believer in vaccine nationalism... you also have to embrace vaccine altruism and ensure that vaccines are delivered in sufficient numbers and in a timely manner to the developing world."
Senanayake forecast that the world would not wait 100 years for the next pandemic, citing the discovery of more than 40 new infections over the last 50 years.
"Our global population is growing, we are impinging more and more natural habitats and interacting with wild animals and our inter-connectedness globally has never been as great as it is now," he said.
"Therefore, the next pandemic is not 100 years away -- it is just around the corner."