Will the Vaccine End the Pandemic?

by Aakash Sharma

Will the Vaccine End the Pandemic?

January 4, 2021

COVID vaccines can counteract symptoms, but no one knows if they can prevent the infection.

No one knows if the first influx of successful COVID vaccines can produce herd resistance. Experiments have revealed that vaccines can deter people from becoming infected with the virus and pass it on. Indeed, researchers state that a vaccine is pivotal in resolving the pandemic’s long-term course worldwide. Despite the regularly unspoken assumption that vaccines will recover us to something like routine life — a Deus ex medica ending to the fright story — it is not explicit if they will have that capability.

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Not The Finest Bet

While vaccines are prized as one of medicine’s most valuable tools, their role is more complicated than we often realize. At their most salutary, vaccines can be sledgehammers that annihilate pathogens. For example, vaccines for smallpox and polio have wholly exterminated the former and soon finish off the latter.

One key to these advances is that these vaccines give sterilizing protection — receivers are not infected by the viruses that induce the diseases and don’t carry it on. When a sufficiently massive community percentage is immunized, it achieves flock immunity, or herd or mass immunity: the pathogen can’t find enough new bodies to keep multiplying, and outbreaks recede.

But smallpox and polio aren’t ideal. More usually, vaccines do not flawlessly defend recipients from getting contaminated and spreading the pathogen. For example, with flu, the virus can penetrate some vaccine recipients’ cells, multiply inside them without creating any symptoms, and contaminate other people who can get infected or even die.

How fast we can expect to go back to normalcy is difficult to say? It is also possible to vary from country to country, and between different regions. In many aspects, it will be a new norm.

- Dobromir Dimitrov, Senior Staffs Reseat, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Million cases of COVID-19 in the world so far.

Normalcy Can't Be Guaranteed

Backtracking to the unfettered social pursuits we used to do routinely in the “before times” of the pandemic will be a critical and vague process — and its dynamics will depend profoundly on how well vaccines limit the spread.

I seriously think this is the most crucial question that affects daily life the most. Can you have this party without feeling blamed and guilty? How are you going to settle on it? These are the routine decisions we'll have to decide on. It impacts the behaviour of people and the behaviour of societies.

- Larry Corey, Virologist, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Corey suggested an example to demonstrate the struggles we will face next year: an office party to celebrate a colleague’s promotion. Most people have been immunized, but someone in the office lives with an elderly relative with a notable pre-existing health state.   

The possible risk to the relative could be very unusual if we have a vaccine that inhibits 50 per cent of infections than if we have one that restrains 90 per cent.

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Potential Health Impacts of Several Vaccines

Dimitrov and several other infectious-disease researchers newly posted a preprint research model to quantify various vaccines’ potential wellness outcomes. They determined that a vaccine that prevented 90 per cent of characteristic illness and most infections could comparatively quickly subdue cases and deaths by 50 per cent in 2021, as the vaccine is distributed.

A vaccine that blocked 90 per cent of illness but did not prevent most infections would require vaccinating twice as several people to present the same health advantage, they found.

Vaccine: Symptom-reducing or Spread-blocking?

Will the real COVID vaccines defeat the virus itself? All the examinations promulgated so far look at how vaccines stop symptomatic cases, but we do have some hints to reduce asymptomatic ones.

Moderna, whose mRNA-based vaccine was allowed emergency permission by the FDA, recently stated critical data from its phase 3 trials. The company’s vaccine covers two shots given four weeks apart.  On the participants’ return for the second shot, 38 subjects in the placebo group tested positive for the virus; between the vaccines group, only 14 did, implying a two-thirds drop in cases.

AstraZeneca, whose vaccine may have more global impact than the mRNA vaccine shots from Moderna and Pfizer because it can be stored in a regular fridge and costs only around $4, has also announced that the vaccine decreased infections. Still, it hasn’t released any of the data.

The apt way to comprehend the vaccines is to carry out a trial where researchers closely spectate participants to watch the viral aspects of everyone who gets influenced.

You have to vaccinate people and primarily test the samples every day. It might result in a million samples. Without a survey like that, we could glean similar information by watching infection rates in vaccinated societies over the long term, but do you want to remain stuck until 2022 to answer this?

- Larry Corey, Virologist, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Work Continues

In the meantime, researchers are proceeding to work on dozens of other vaccine candidates that might be more affordable, more efficient against infection, or preferred in some other way to the first batch of vaccines.

Paul Griffin, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Queensland, supports run trials on four vaccines, including one exciting candidate from the group Symvivo that comes in a capsule that can be cached at room temperature and consumed immediately by mouth. “Likely, we won’t ever find a perfect vaccine,” says Griffin.

“They all have strengths and weaknesses.”

Also Read: COVID-19 Deaths Are Being Underreported In India

Also Read: Can you take 2 coronavirus vaccines to strengthen yourself?

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