With much of the world either in lockdown or contemplating an imminent go back to it, it can be forgiven its bated breath as 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 many years would appear to possess been pared down seriously to a scramble over a matter of months, and some 240 potential vaccines are presently under development in various 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 go out of ideas, a vaccine is undoubtedly the holy grail in the fight Covid. New restrictions imposed are invariably prefaced with what “until we’ve a vaccine “.Of course new vaccines do not necessarily work, and so it is essential to sound the obligatory note of caution. But assuming one or more 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 could be the panacea which will finally consign the ubiquitous SARS-CoV-2 to history. But are we possibly expecting too much 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 the virus. But coronaviruses are rarely that co-operative โควิด. Instead it is much much more likely that inoculation will give you efficacy at, say, 50%, meaning the vaccine is 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 produced 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 the upper airways.
Candidate vaccines a possible game-changer
Regardless of their likely imperfect performance the candidate vaccines, if they’re successful even up to 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 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: “When we push the illness 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 the way for a return to normal life and a rejuvenated economy.
Phil Andrews is a freelance English-language content writer specialising in articles, content and blogging. He’s mcdougal of The Best Year Of Our Lives, a historical fiction novel set in 1976 about a group of teenagers growing up in a restless West London suburb near the River Thames.