COVID-19 vaccine will not end the pandemic on its own, experts warn

COVID-19 vaccine will not end the pandemic on its own, experts warn
A man wearing a face mask walks in a shopping centre amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Chester, Britain. (Reuters)
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Updated 01 October 2020

COVID-19 vaccine will not end the pandemic on its own, experts warn

COVID-19 vaccine will not end the pandemic on its own, experts warn
  • Newly published report cautions that potential limits to effectiveness mean other precautionary measures will be needed for some time
  • The availability, long-term safety and effectiveness of vaccines will have to be closely monitored, along with any changes to the coronavirus

LONDON: The development of a COVID-19 vaccine will not, on its own, end the coronavirus threat, experts have warned. As a result, other preventative and precautionary measures will still be required for a time after a vaccine becomes available.

In a report published on Thursday, a multidisciplinary group convened by the Royal Society, called Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics, reiterated that initial vaccines might only be partially effective, might not work for everyone and might provide only short-term immunity.

It added that potential problems with manufacture, distribution and public acceptance might also be anticipated.

Dr Fiona Culley of the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, one of the lead authors of the report, said that although a vaccine is viewed by many as a way to end the pandemic, people need to be more realistic in their expectations.

“The path to successful vaccines is filled with potential problems in finding vaccines that will work effectively in the ways we need, and in being able to roll them out,” she said. “Planning now for the different scenarios that might play out will give us the best chance of taking rapid advantage of any vaccines that are proven to be safe and effective.

Scientists have made great progress in vaccine development in a relatively short time through international collaborations. More than 200 potential vaccines are being developed and a number of trials are in advanced stages worldwide.

The report said that when effective and safe vaccines are developed, global coordination of purchases, production and distribution will needed.

It added that the availability, long-term safety and effectiveness of the vaccines must be monitored closely, and financial support maintained for the development of a second generation of vaccines.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, must also be closely monitored for mutations that might make it resistant to vaccines, the report said.

It also advised that global collaboration on investment in research, training and the infrastructure needed to deliver vaccine programs be maintained to ensure the international community is fully prepared for future pandemics.