With much of the world either in lockdown or contemplating an imminent return to it, it can be forgiven its bated breath because it awaits news updates on any little progress that could have been made towards creating a vaccine for Covid-19. A procedure which typically takes many years would appear to have been pared down seriously 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 have 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 the words “until we have a vaccine “.Of course new vaccines do not at all times work, and so it is necessary to sound the obligatory note of caution. But assuming one or more does, what, realistically, is the better we could expect as a result?
Are we expecting an excessive amount of a vaccine?
Assumptions are frequently made that a vaccine could be the panacea which will finally consign the ubiquitous SARS-CoV-2 to history. But are we possibly expecting an excessive amount of it, at the very least in early stages?
In the field of medicine there’s 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 more likely that inoculation will provide 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 probably 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 top of the 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 greatly reduce the seriousness of the condition which 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 research: “When we push the disease from pneumonia to a common cold, then I think that’s a huge step forward.”
Relegating Covid-19 to an unthreatening condition will end the necessity 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, site content and blogging. He’s mcdougal of The Best Year Of Our Lives, a historical fiction novel set in 1976 about several teenagers growing up in a restless West London suburb next to the River Thames.