Last November, to help companies understand vaccine efficacy and provide them with policy development guidance to achieve high rates of vaccination amongst staff, IOGP and Ipieca updated their joint position paper on COVID-19 vaccines. Five months on, we met up with Guillermo Gomez Diaz (Eni) and Hans Berg (Shell) to ask them to share their thoughts on the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic and whether vaccinations are still necessary.
How does the Health Committees see the current global COVID-19 situation?
When it comes to COVID-19, and certainly in western Europe, most governments and public health agencies have de-escalated their responses. However, a new Omicron variant, BA2, has emerged. This has caused an increase in cases in the region, but has not led to a surge in hospitalizations. This does not mean that we will see the same outcome in other regions where vaccination levels or immunity levels may be lower. As we move into the endemic phase of the pandemic, we need to remain vigilant and stay safe, as we may need to go back to reinstating some, if not all, of the health measures used during earlier phases of the pandemic.
Are vaccines still important?
From the Health Committee’s perspective, there is a clear consensus that vaccinations are one of the most important mitigation measures. We recognize that there has been lot of information circulated that may have caused some mistrust in agencies and in governments. That’s unfortunate for the medical and scientific community, as the research shows vaccinations really do prevent hospitalization and death, although maybe not always infection.
We know vaccines offers a good level of protection for six months, perhaps longer. And, if people are not vaccinated, the coronavirus can transmit more easily, and we are more likely to see new variants emerge. To avoid or minimize this, we need high vaccination levels worldwide.
The rapid development of safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 has been an unparalleled scientific achievement that has saved millions of lives. However, despite this remarkable success, the pandemic is far from over. With much of the world’s population still waiting for their first shot, it is expected to take well into 2023, if not longer, until everyone is vaccinated. The countries where vaccine access is the lowest are also some of the key operating countries and regions for IOGP and Ipieca’s Member Companies, and we must all remain vigilant against the virus and continue to use all proven methods to combat its effects.
The Joint IOGP-Ipieca position on COVID-19 vaccines is available to download from the IOGP Publications Library.