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Coronavirus vaccine update: We need to be prepared for these 4 scenarios
With more than 20.7 million coronavirus cases around the world and over 751,000 deaths, the novel coronavirus continues to spread at an alarming rate across the globe. It has been more than 8 months since a pneumonia-like illness was first detected in Wuhan, China and the world hasn’t been the same. As of now, the highly infectious pathogen has already spread to 213 nations as it continues to ravage the health of people across the world.
Amidst the bleakness of the pandemic, the accelerated efforts of the researchers and scientists across the globe in developing a vaccine for the novel coronavirus certainly emerges as a ray of hope. As of now, there are more than 160 vaccine candidates in different stages of clinical trials, while 27 of them have reached the critical human trials phase. As the world waits with bated breath for a vaccine to combat the spread of this ravaging disease, we take a look at four circumstances which still need our attention.
Owing to the record-breaking efforts of scientists across the globe, currently, we have 7 vaccine candidates in the final stage of human trials, including the Oxford-AstraZeneca backed novel coronavirus vaccine. As hopes of an effective vaccine to fight novel coronavirus inch closer to reality, there is yet another roadblock.
According to a poll conducted by Associated Press, only less than 50 per cent of Americans were ready to take the coronavirus jab, when and if it was made available. The statistics show that it would certainly take a lot more assurance about the safety of the vaccine to the general public, which is crucial to eradicate the disease globally. The speculations about the safety risks of the vaccines may be understood, given the breakneck speed of the development.
As of now, there are at least six known strains of the novel coronavirus but scientists have observed that virus does not show a lot of variation. The research which has been published in the journal ‘Frontiers in Microbiology’, shed light on the low evolutionary change of the SARS-CoV-2. While the virus has not shown any major variations even more than 8 months after its detection, it is still possible theoretically. While these changes don’t always cause a dramatic impact, if the virus mutates significantly and erratically, vaccines may be rendered ineffective.
One of the biggest concerns remains the failure of vaccine in producing long-term immunity against the novel coronavirus. As per a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the coronavirus antibodies levels in COVID survivors dropped drastically in the span of just three months and were even undetectable in some cases. This research further questions the efficacy of an approved vaccine in terms of the duration of immunity it may provide.
While scientists are racing against time to make the vision of COVID-19 vaccine a reality, the delivery of a successful vaccine is only a job half done. Even in the best-case scenario, if we get a vaccine by the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021, the distribution and mass-immunization are going to be a bigger challenge. The manufacturing and distribution of billion of vaccine doses will prove to be a daunting task, and will require immense planning and careful handling of the logistics. As per experts, at least 70 per cent of the world’s population will have to be vaccinated to develop herd immunity.