Covid-19 Vaccine May Not Be Silver Bullet: Experts

An expert says the first generation of Covid-19 vaccines may be mediocre, like the first generation of drugs during the HIV epidemic.

KUALA LUMPUR, August 4 — Experts say that even if a coronavirus vaccine is available later this year, it could take years for the world to return to pre-pandemic times.

The Washington Post reported that release of a safe and effective vaccine is only the beginning as sending it out to people in the United States and across the globe may stress distribution networks, the supply chain, and global cooperation, amid little public trust and rising anti-vaccine sentiment.

US regulators require the vaccine produced to be 50 percent effective to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission, but herd immunity, where enough of the population is immune to stop the spread of the coronavirus, is also needed.

“We have to prepare ourselves for the idea that we do not have a very good vaccine. My guess is the first is the first generation of vaccines may be mediocre, “ Micheal S. Kinch, an expert in drug development and research at Washington University in St. Louis, was quoted saying.

He cited the HIV/AIDS epidemic that saw a first generation of “fairly mediocre drugs”.

Natalie E. Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida, was quoted saying: “You can make something work perfectly in the lab; it’s a whole other thing to make it work out in the community.”

The measles vaccine is 98 percent at preventing the disease. However, the flu vaccine is only 40 to 60 percent effective, as those with a weaker immune system, such as the elderly, require a special high-dose flu vaccine.

Although governments and companies are investing billions of dollars to speed up the production of the Covid-19 vaccine, not everyone will be able to get the vaccine even by the first month when the vaccine is available, The Washington Post reported.

Even those who can get vaccinated immediately, it takes weeks for the immune system to build antibodies against the vaccine and a booster dose may be needed.

At least two-thirds of the community have to take the vaccine to attain herd immunity, said Paul A. Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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