COVID-19 Crisis: Here’s what happens if there is no vaccine

A passenger wearing a protective face mask is seen in a tram on the first day of the easing of lockdown measures, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Brussels, Belgium, May 4, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The whole world is anxiously looking forward to a COVID-19 vaccine, clinging to the present estimates of 12 to 18 months.

Some pharmaceuticals companies, on the other hand, claim their vaccines would be released even sooner. Many people seem to settle down for a year after everything goes back to normal.

Although people wants to have a coronavirus vaccine, the reality is much more complicated. Researchers say vaccine improvement, under normal circumstances is a complicated process.

There is no assurance yet that a coronavirus vaccine will be released in less than two years  even with the delivered stress of the pandemic putting pressure at the process. Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at UTHealth School of Public Health said:

“Vaccine development is an art, not just a science.” 

What would work could be challenging

One of the restrictions on vaccine development is that it is hard to predict what will work. Vaccine works as a stimulant for antibodies that could comprehend the virus and cause different immune cells to respond.

Troisi said further said:

“We don’t know a whole lot about immunity for this virus.” 

Scientists has to prove which antibodies are useful and how the virus will stimulate the production of those antibodies. Moreover, a number of the vaccines in development are focused on getting the body to produce antibodies to fight the spike proteins located in the virus.

Scientists should stimulate the immune system by extract the part of the virus that will boost an antibody. However, there’s good news, according to a physician working with the pharmaceutical company GeneOne in developing a COVID-19 vaccine. “We have better tools [to work with],” says John Cooke, a physician-scientist at Houston Methodist Hospital.

Scientists were able to quickly sequence the coronavirus genome. But various antibodies that are already being tested are hindered by data which are critical to the improvement of capability vaccines. The speed remains unprecedented for the scientists that develops and produces possible vaccines.

Testing takes time and is extremely critical

Vaccine needs to be safe and effective, scientists say. The test consists of Phase I, II, and III trials, during which a vaccine is tested in human volunteers and assessed for each efficacy and perilous or unwanted facet outcomes.

Even although there are ways to hurry the testing, it’s still a long, complicated process. Scientists say making sure that a vaccine is safe as well as effective is vitally important. Moreover, they said, 

“If a vaccine is rushed to market and we find out only later that it has dangerous side effects or doesn’t work well, that will only create additional problems.” 

What life without a vaccine looks like

Scientists say life will continue to a “new normal” if a coronavirus vaccine can’t be produced. “The lockdown is not sustainable economically, and possibly not politically,” says Keith Neal, Emeritus Professor in the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases at the University of Nottingham.

“There are some viruses that we still do not have vaccines against [coronavirus],” says Dr. David Nabarro, a professor of global health at Imperial College London. Nabarro, who is closely working with World Health Organization on the fight against COVID-19 implied that “social distancing” with every person worldwide is needed to avoid the virus.

Image courtesy of Yves Herman/Screenshot REUTERS

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