Having Covid-19 vaccine by Dec a ‘miracle’ well worth celebrating

30May 2020
The Guardian
Having Covid-19 vaccine by Dec a ‘miracle’ well worth celebrating

A SORT of consensus is starting to build up around the world, with a view to expecting an effective vaccine against the novel coronavirus by the end of this year.

This expectation has gained credence after it was reaffirmed by none other than Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

This is a top scientist known for his cautious scientific attitude, who energetically worked to put the picture right when US President Donald Trump was championing the use of hydroxylchloroquine for treating Covid-19 symptoms.

Of course, as happened, the World Health Organisation eventually urged that the idea be discontinued.

The top US epidemiologist said in an interview earlier this week that if all things fall in the right place, the US and the rest of the world might have a vaccine for Covid-19 by November or December.

This announcement also needs to be seen in the shadow of ongoing cut-throat competition for a workable vaccine, which has two sides. One involves a Western scientific alliance, with the US being top financier of an Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine development effort, apart from other efforts in the US itself.

The other is work going on in China, which is being regarded with a certain alarm in higher circles of those in the US presidency at the moment, though much of the rest of the world is relaxed about it.

This competition is surely helping to energise the search for a Covid-19 vaccine but in no way guarantees that the dream will come true within the timeframe espoused. There are teething problems involved in developing vaccines, if history is any guide.

A top-level expert has publicly observed that the US and the rest of the world have never developed a vaccine against this family of viruses. The reference was clearly to the Serious Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that broke out in China back in 2012 and is still sending tremors around the globe.

Another variety is the Middle East version of the same disease that broke out around 2014 and still around, but clearly not as wildly expanding as Covid-19 is.

Earlier versions of the SARS plague diminished gradually and didn’t spread with ease all over the world, but Covid-19 is worlds different and much more work is being done on the current plague than earlier.

But to say that vaccines for SARS and MERS were not found in the past eight years but a vaccine is likely for Covid-19 is to suggest that researchers did not have adequate financing to put together a credible range of combinations of tests targeting different aspects of the SARS virus in its two distinctive forms.

HIV and AIDS has been around since the early 1980s and still have seen no effective vaccine, with some tried with some success at individual level not on a mass scale.

Experts say the reason for this is that by the time testing becomes a mass issue, some sort of mutation of the virus occurs on account of exposure to the basic vaccine compounds.

So there is plenty of reason to stay in the mental frame that Covid-19 will be around for quite some time yet, as developing vaccines isn’t easy and can hardly be a six-month job as some top level authorities wish to affirm.

All the same, the earlier such vaccines are found, the better for humankind. It will indeed be cause for global celebration of a dream come true.

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