With much of the entire world either in lockdown or contemplating an imminent go back to it, it can be forgiven its bated breath as it awaits news updates on any little progress that might have been made towards developing a vaccine for Covid-19. A process which typically takes several years seems to possess been pared down to a scramble over a matter of months, and some 240 potential vaccines are presently under development in a variety of places across the planet, including forty in clinical trials and nine in the final stages of testing.
For governments and their scientific advisors all bearing a tired aura of folks who’ve come to an end of ideas, a vaccine is without question the holy grail in the fight against Covid. New restrictions imposed are invariably prefaced with what “until we’ve a vaccine “.Obviously new vaccines do not necessarily work, and so it’s essential to sound the obligatory note of caution. But assuming at least one does, what, realistically, is the better we could expect from it?
Are we expecting too much of a vaccine?
Assumptions are frequently made that a vaccine could be the panacea which will ultimately consign the ubiquitous SARS-CoV-2 to history. But are we possibly expecting too much of it, at the least in the early stages?
In the field of medicine there’s a concept called “sterilising immunity”, wherein a vaccinated individual can get total protection from a virus. But coronaviruses are rarely that co-operative โควิด. Instead it is much more likely that inoculation will give you efficacy at, say, 50%, meaning the vaccine is a huge advance nonetheless it won’t make the virus disappear, at the least not overnight.
Possibly the absolute most advanced of the Covid-19 vaccine projects presently under way is that being manufactured by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Experiments undertaken in macaques within this project indicated that the vaccine protected the primates from developing pneumonia, but quantities of virus remained in the upper airways.
Candidate vaccines a possible game-changer
Notwithstanding their likely imperfect performance the candidate vaccines, if they’re successful even up to a point, promise to be always a game-changer. The reason being they both minimise the odds of the recipient becoming infected and also, if infection does occur, they greatly reduce the seriousness of the problem that will develop. Thus it brings benefits on two fronts.
Based on Vincent Munster, head of the virus ecology unit at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’Rocky Mountain Laboratories, who headed the study: “When we push the condition from pneumonia to a standard cold, then I do believe that is clearly a huge step forward.”
Relegating Covid-19 to an unthreatening condition will end the requirement for restrictions to be imposed to guard health services, and pave just how for a come back to normal life and a rejuvenated economy.
Phil Andrews is a freelance English-language content writer specialising in articles, web content and blogging. He is mcdougal of The Best Year Of Our Lives, a historical fiction novel set in 1976 about a small grouping of young people growing up in a restless West London suburb near the River Thames.