Hundreds of thousands of people have died and the global economy is reeling we’re all hoping that scientists find some way of beating the coronavirus there are two options use a vaccine that protects against the infection and prevents the virus spreading or a treatment that stops people dying.
We need effective vaccines in unprecedented quantities and at unprecedented speed either would help the world get back on its feet.
World leaders talk about vaccines a lot.
Vaccines protect against infectious diseases caused by viruses like polio or measles according to the world health organization they save up to 3 million lives a year and scientists are confident they can develop one for covid19 even though some viruses are trickier than others for example there’s no vaccine against HIV or the common cold at the last count
there were at least 160 vaccines being developed against the virus with some of them in clinical trials in humans.
Scientists in Japan, China, the US and eEurope are all working on an experimental one but there are also candidates on the list from Thailand,
Egypt, Nigeria and even Kazakhstan, etc
The UK already has two vaccines being tested on volunteers and they work in slightly different ways. In oxford, scientists are using a harmless version of a common cold virus as a trojan horse to carry a snippet of the coronavirus’s genetic material it infects human cells turning them into
factories that churn out the so-called spike protein that coats the outside of the coronavirus
There is a lot of expectation on waiting for a vaccine and I generally think that this vaccine has an extremely strong chance of working compared to many of the other technologies that are out there
At imperial college london a separate team is doing away with the trojan horse they’re just injecting the RNA the genetic material from the coronavirus but it instructs muscle cells to start making the spike protein.
This might sound complicated but put simply the human immune system thinks it’s being attacked, it rallies its defenses to make antibodies and other killer cells if a vaccinated person picks up the real virus the antibodies block the spike protein stopping the virus infecting cells and if any virus does sneak through the killer cells mop up the infection.
That’s the theory but it’s hard to do the public would like a vaccine today and yet we need to make sure it’s safe and that it works and that we don’t cut corners and so it’s that pressure of meeting expectations but recognizing that if you go too fast it may come back and bite you later 90 of vaccines fail some because they don’t fire up the immune system to make enough antibodies others because those antibodies don’t
last for long enough and vaccines tend to work less well in older patients who need protection against covid19 the most so scientists will find it tough and then there’s the problem of making the vaccine.
The world needs 8 billion doses 16 billion if the vaccine needs a booster at the earliest a vaccine will be ready to be used in early 2021 but that’s just the first doses health and care workers are likely to be front of the queue next in line would be older patients and those with underlying health conditions but it would take months maybe even years to make enough vaccine for everybody and that’s why some doctors believe a treatment is a better way of beating the virus
I mean to me the therapeutic is even more important than the vaccine at this point because people will get better doctors are raiding the medicine cabinet for options some drugs like remdesivir deserve.
It target the virus itself it was originally developed for ebola but it also works in covid19 speeding up recovery times by four days but it hasn’t yet been shown to save lives remdesivir has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery what it is proven is that a drug can block this virus other drugs target the immune system some patients aren’t killed by the virus but by their own immune response which goes into overdrive the steroid dexamethasone calms everything down in the sickest patients it reduces deaths by a third this drug dexamethasone can now be made available and we’ve taken steps to ensure we have enough supplies even in the event of a second peak scientists are optimistic they can beat the virus there are no guarantees and they’re bound to be hurdles along the way but they’ll need to crack it if we’re to get back to a normal life.