With much of the entire world either in lockdown or contemplating an imminent return to it, it could be forgiven its bated breath since 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 a long time would seem 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 ultimate 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 a doubt the ultimate goal in the fight against Covid. New restrictions imposed are invariably prefaced with the language “until we have a vaccine “.Obviously new vaccines do not at all times 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 an excessive amount of a vaccine?
Assumptions are frequently made a vaccine may be the panacea which will ultimately consign the ubiquitous SARS-CoV-2 to history. But are we possibly expecting an excessive amount of it, at least in the first stages?
In the field of medicine there’s a concept called “sterilising immunity”, wherein a vaccinated individual can expect total protection from a virus. But coronaviruses are rarely that co-operative โควิด. Instead it’s much much more likely that inoculation provides efficacy at, say, 50%, meaning the vaccine will be a huge advance but 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 produced by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Experiments undertaken in macaques as part of this project indicated 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 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 may develop. Thus it brings benefits on two fronts.
In accordance with Vincent Munster, head of the virus ecology unit at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’Rocky Mountain Laboratories, who headed the investigation: “If we push the condition from pneumonia to a typical cold, then I believe that’s 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 the way for a return to normal life and a rejuvenated economy.
Phil Andrews is a freelance English-language content writer specialising in articles, site content and blogging. He is mcdougal of The Best Year Of Our Lives, a historical fiction novel emerge 1976 about a group of teenagers growing up in a restless West London suburb next to the River Thames.