With a lot of the world either in lockdown or contemplating an imminent come back to it, it could 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 many years seems to own been pared right down to a scramble over a matter of months, and some 240 potential vaccines are presently under development in several places across the planet, including forty in clinical trials and nine in the ultimate stages of testing.
For governments and their scientific advisors all bearing a tired aura of folks who’ve run out of ideas, a vaccine is without question the ultimate goal in the combat Covid. New restrictions imposed are invariably prefaced with the words “until we’ve a vaccine “.Obviously new vaccines do not always work, and therefore it is required to sound the obligatory note of caution. But assuming one or more does, what, realistically, is the best we could expect from it?
Are we expecting too much of a vaccine?
Assumptions are frequently made that the vaccine is the panacea which will ultimately consign the ubiquitous SARS-CoV-2 to history. But are we possibly expecting too much of it, at the very least in early 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 is much more likely that inoculation provides efficacy at, say, 50%, meaning the vaccine will be a huge step forward but it won’t make the virus disappear, at the very 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 within this project revealed that the vaccine protected the primates from developing pneumonia, but quantities of virus remained in the upper airways.
Candidate vaccines a possible game-changer
Regardless of their likely imperfect performance the candidate vaccines, if they are successful even up to point, promise to be a game-changer. This is because they both minimise the odds of the recipient becoming infected and also, if infection does occur, they greatly reduce the seriousness of the condition that will develop. Thus it brings benefits on two fronts.
According to Vincent Munster, head of the virus ecology unit at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’Rocky Mountain Laboratories, who headed the study: “If we push the disease from pneumonia to a common cold, then I do believe that is a huge step forward.”
Relegating Covid-19 to an unthreatening condition will end the need for restrictions to be imposed to protect health services, and pave just how for a go back to normal life and a rejuvenated economy.
Phil Andrews is just a freelance English-language content writer specialising in articles, web content and blogging. He’s the writer of The Best Year Of Our Lives, a historical fiction novel occur 1976 about a small grouping of teenagers growing up in a restless West London suburb next to the River Thames.