With much of the entire world either in lockdown or contemplating an imminent go back to it, it can be forgiven its bated breath because it awaits news updates on any little progress that might have been made towards creating a vaccine for Covid-19. An activity which typically takes a long time would seem to have 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 world, 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 run out 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’ve a vaccine “.Obviously new vaccines do not at all times work, and so it’s necessary to sound the obligatory note of caution. But assuming at least one does, what, realistically, is the best we could expect as a result?
Are we expecting too much of a vaccine?
Assumptions are frequently made that a vaccine may 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 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 is much more likely that inoculation can provide 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 top of the airways.
Candidate vaccines a possible game-changer
Regardless of their likely imperfect performance the candidate vaccines, if they are successful even up to a point, promise to become 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 problem that’ll 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 disease from pneumonia to a standard cold, then I think that is clearly a huge step forward.”
Relegating Covid-19 to an unthreatening condition will end the requirement for restrictions to be imposed to protect health services, and pave the way in which for a come back to normal life and a rejuvenated economy.
Phil Andrews is just a freelance English-language content writer specialising in articles, content and blogging. He is the writer of The Best Year Of Our Lives, a historical fiction novel emerge 1976 about a group of young adults growing up in a restless West London suburb near the River Thames.