With a lot 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 could have been made towards having a vaccine for Covid-19. An activity which typically takes several years seems to possess been pared right down to a scramble over a matter of months, and some 240 potential vaccines are presently under development in various places across the globe, 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 go out of ideas, a vaccine is without question the ultimate goal in the fight Covid. New restrictions imposed are invariably prefaced with the language “until we have a vaccine “.Needless to say new vaccines do not necessarily work, and so it is necessary to sound the obligatory note of caution. But assuming a minumum of one does, what, realistically, is the better we can 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 least in the first stages?
In the field of medicine there is a concept called “sterilising immunity”, wherein a vaccinated individual can expect total protection from the virus. But coronaviruses are rarely that co-operative โควิด. Instead it’s much much more likely that inoculation will give you efficacy at, say, 50%, meaning the vaccine would have been a huge step of progress however it won’t make the virus disappear, at least not overnight.
Possibly the most advanced of the Covid-19 vaccine projects presently under way is that being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Experiments undertaken in macaques as part of this project showed that the vaccine protected the primates from developing pneumonia, but quantities of virus remained in the top of airways.
Candidate vaccines a potential game-changer
In spite of their likely imperfect performance the candidate vaccines, if they are successful even up to and including 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 help 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 investigation: “When we push the disease from pneumonia to a common cold, then I think that is a huge step forward.”
Relegating Covid-19 to an unthreatening condition will end the need for restrictions to be imposed to safeguard health services, and pave the way for a come back to normal life and a rejuvenated economy.
Phil Andrews is a freelance English-language content writer specialising in articles, content and blogging. He is mcdougal of The Best Year Of Our Lives, a historical fiction novel emerge 1976 about a small grouping of young people growing up in a restless West London suburb beside the River Thames.