With much of the planet either in lockdown or contemplating an imminent go back to it, it could be forgiven its bated breath since it awaits news updates on any little progress that may have been made towards creating a vaccine for Covid-19. A process which typically takes many years would seem to own been pared down to a scramble over a matter of months, and some 240 potential vaccines are presently under development in several 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 come to an end of ideas, a vaccine is without question the holy grail in the fight Covid. New restrictions imposed are invariably prefaced with the words “until we’ve a vaccine “.Of course new vaccines do not always 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 the very least in early stages?
In the field of medicine there’s a concept called “sterilising immunity”, wherein a vaccinated individual can get total protection from the virus. But coronaviruses are rarely that co-operative โควิด. Instead it is much more likely that inoculation will give you efficacy at, say, 50%, meaning the vaccine will be a huge advance 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 as part of 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
In spite of their likely imperfect performance the candidate vaccines, if they are successful even up to point, promise to be a game-changer. The reason being they both minimise the odds of the recipient becoming infected and also, if infection does occur, they reduce the seriousness of the problem that may 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 investigation: “When we push the illness from pneumonia to a standard cold, then I think that is a huge step forward.”
Relegating Covid-19 to an unthreatening condition will end the requirement for restrictions to be imposed to safeguard health services, and pave just how for a come back to normal life and a rejuvenated economy.
Phil Andrews is 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.