More than 90 vaccines are underway in various stages of development and research teams around the world are racing to be the first to protect us from covid-19. Everyone hopes and prays that one will eventually work, but that may never happen.
You won’t hear politicians say this, but we shouldn’t get our hopes up. A vaccine may never materialize, according to a new report by Dr. David Nabarro, a World Health Organization envoy.
“There are some viruses that we still do not have vaccines against,” said Nabarro, a professor of global health at Imperial College London, in a CNN interview. “We can’t make an absolute assumption that a vaccine will appear at all, or if it does appear, whether it will pass all the tests of efficacy and safety.”
Dr. James Hildreth, a top immunologist in the U.S., is also skeptical of claims a coronavirus vaccine will be developed any time soon.
“You’d think after 39 years of being aware of HIV and studying it, we’d have a vaccine for that but we don’t. That’s why I’m very cautious in telling people we will have a vaccine for covid-19,” Hildreth told the Wall Street Journal.
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A vaccine could happen, but not as quickly as people want. “All the other major vaccines we have—for measles, Ebola—have taken a minimum of seven years, and some as long as 40 years,” Hildreth said.
There are also no vaccines for SARS and MERS despite dozens of attempts to develop them. It is 17 years since the first SARS outbreak (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and seven years since the first MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) case.
Politicians speak optimistically about human trials already underway for vaccines, but experts are trying to keep it real: not all viruses have been solved by vaccines.
President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he’s confident the U.S. will have a vaccine for the coronavirus by the end of the year. Trump has repeatedly attacked the WHO on multiple fronts, in part because its experts and their warnings don’t jive with the messages of magical thinking Trump is counting on to win him re-election.
The absence of a much-hyped, much-promised vaccine is a terrible prospect for billions of people who have lost their livelihoods due to coronavirus and for countries frozen in lockdown.
“In this outcome, the public’s hopes are repeatedly raised and then dashed, as various proposed solutions fall before the final hurdle,” Rob Picheta wrote for CNN.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 70: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin goes solo to discuss the COVID-19 crisis. He talks about the failed leadership of Trump, Andrew Cuomo, CDC Director Robert Redfield, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and New York Mayor de Blasio.
Instead, humankind may have to learn to live with the coronavirus, reopening and then shutting down businesses. Physical tracing could become a part of our lives. Treatments may be developed for people who contract the virus, but the world could still see annual outbreaks and deaths, making periodic lockdowns a reality indefinitely.
“We’ve never accelerated a vaccine in a year to 18 months,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, in a CNN interview. “It doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it will be quite a heroic achievement.”
Vaccines often get held up or fail in the testing process, not the development phase, Hotez said. Hotez worked on a vaccine for SARS. “The hard part is showing you can prove that it works and it’s safe.”