The spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 can’t be stopped without an effective vaccine. Until then, lockdown cannot be lifted and life will not return to normal. Both the WHO and experts from different countries warn about this.
But when will this happen? When will humanity protect itself from the pandemic that has already become the biggest international threat since WW2? There is no exact answer to this question yet.
What is a vaccine? It’s a weakened pathogen of the virus, injected to a healthy person in order to "introduce" the body to a potential danger and develop a specific immunity.
According to Bloomberg, 70 coronavirus vaccines are being developed worldwide at the moment. China, USA, Australia, Russia, Israel and others are in the race to find the cure. Three vaccines are already being tested on humans.
First is an experimental vaccine developed by the Hong Kong-registered CanSino Biologics Inc. and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, which is in the second phase of research. Two others are treatments developed separately by US pharmacists Moderna Inc. and Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc.
But there are also other interesting options. According to Jpost, a few days ago, Israeli scientists announced the creation of a vaccine against the Coronavirus. Once it is developed, it will take at least 90 days and possibly even more to enter the market to complete the process of lignising. The Minister of Science and Technology, Ophir Akunis, called the vaccine unique and universal, saying that it would radically change the world situation.
At the same time, While some try to create the solution today, others think that the key to the the current problem lies in our past.
The curious case of Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination
In late March, when the Covid-19 epidemic spread throughout the world and the number of confirmed cases began to be measured in the hundreds of thousands, many drew attention to a suspicious coincidence.
The disease spreads at different rates in different countries. For some reason, the virus (at least at first glance) is much less active in countries where children are required to be vaccinated against tuberculosis using the BCG vaccine.
Does this mean that people vaccinated with the BCG vaccine in childhood are better protected during the pandemic? In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Dr. Stefan Kaufman does not give a definite answer to this question. According to the professor, there is no evidence today that the body’s protection provided by the BCG vaccine is preserved for decades: “I think that it lasts for about a year.”
One way or another, the race for the cure is taking place at an unprecedented rate in the development of vaccines. While it usually takes about 10-15 years, the pharmaceutical industry hopes to reduce the time needed to bring the vaccine to the market and do it by next year.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently suggested that the vaccine for the new coronavirus will be available to the public in 12-18 months.
But there are also sceptical voices.
“A year to 18 months would be absolutely unprecedented,” says Peter Hotez, dean at Baylor University’s National School of Tropical Medicine told National Geographic. “Maybe with the new technology, maybe with throwing enough money on it, that'll happen. But we have to be really careful about those time estimates.”
History has repeatedly demonstrated that when it comes to vaccines and forecasts, everyone needs to be extremely careful. In 1984, HIV was identified as the cause of AIDS. U.S. HHS Secretary Margaret Heckler declared that an AIDS vaccine would be ready for testing within two years.
36 years have passed since then, and the number of deaths from AIDS caused by HIV has exceeded 32 million. Moreover, progress with antiretroviral drugs only partially mitigated the problem: in 2018, 0.77 million died due to HIV infection, because poor countries are often unable to give their patients full treatment.