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Vaccine Optimism

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

There are several good reasons to be upbeat, and here are some of them:

One, this virus can be cured. Unlike some viruses such as HIV that embed their genome in our own and make fresh copies of themselves after immune elimination, we know that SARS-CoV-2 is unable to persist in this way.

Two, most infected patients develop antibodies and there is evidence of virus-specific T cell responses. Although we don’t know if these responses are protective yet, these are precisely the responses that can lead to immunological memory, the cornerstone of vaccination. Vaccine products will be refined and enriched to induce more potent immune responses than natural infection.

Three, coronaviruses mutate slower than viruses such as influenza, and we know from Sars and Mers that antibodies can persist for at least one to two years following recovery. This is good news for an effective vaccine that may not require updating for quite some time.

There are more reasons to be upbeat. Scientists are testing several approaches so there is a higher probability of success, and pharmaceutical companies have been engaged early, scaling up production and working out logistics for distribution even before there is evidence the vaccine will work. This is worth the investment because resources can be quickly repurposed for the most promising vaccines following the first clinical trials.

A coronavirus vaccine is within our reach, and it is our best hope to stem transmission and generate herd immunity to protect the most vulnerable. Taking away its hosts for replication, we can eradicate this virus from the human population just as vaccination previously eradicated smallpox.

Original source: The Conversation

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