Vaccine ‘unlikely’ to ever eradicate COVID-19: UK’s top scientist

A woman wearing a protective face covering checks her phone as she walks down the centre of Oxford Street in London, on October 17, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 20 October 2020

Vaccine ‘unlikely’ to ever eradicate COVID-19: UK’s top scientist

  • Sir Patrick Vallance: Virus may become endemic, much like seasonal flu
  • He said working vaccine unlikely to be ready until next spring at least

LONDON: A coronavirus vaccine is “unlikely” to ever completely eradicate the virus, and the disease may never disappear, the British government’s chief scientific adviser has warned.

“I think it’s unlikely that we’ll end up with a truly sterilizing vaccine that completely stops infection. It’s likely that this disease will circulate and be endemic,” Sir Patrick Vallance told a UK government committee.

The medical definition of endemic describes a disease that is constantly present in the population, much like seasonal flu.

“My assessment — and I think that’s the view of many people — is that’s the likely outcome,” Vallance said.

“Clearly as management becomes better, as you get vaccination that will decrease the chance of infection and the severity of the disease — or whatever the profile of the vaccines are — this then starts to look more like annual flu than anything else, and that may be the direction we end up going in.”

He said the only disease to have ever been completely eradicated is smallpox. Vallance also warned that a working vaccine is unlikely to be ready until next spring at least — still far faster than the approximate five-year development time of previous vaccines.

There are now a number of vaccines undergoing late-stage human trials in the US, the UK, China and elsewhere.

But a growing body of research suggests that a COVID-19 vaccine is unlikely to provide long-term protection against the virus, and may require annual inoculations.


Academic freed in Iran ‘blown away’ by support

Updated 21 min 49 sec ago

Academic freed in Iran ‘blown away’ by support

SYDNEY: An Australian-British academic released after two years imprisoned in Iran on spying charges said she thanked supporters from the “bottom of my heart” Tuesday, saying they helped her through a “never-ending, unrelenting nightmare.”
In her first statement since arriving back in Australia, Middle East scholar Kylie Moore-Gilbert said she was “totally blown away” by efforts from friends and family to secure her release.
“I honestly have no words to express the depth of my gratitude and how touched I am,” the 33-year-old said.
“It gave me so much hope and strength to endure what had seemed like a never-ending, unrelenting nightmare. My freedom truly is your victory. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!“
Moore-Gilbert was released last week in a swap for three Iranians linked to a botched plot to kill Israeli officials in Bangkok.
She was arrested by Iran’s hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in 2018, after attending an academic conference in the holy city of Qom in central Iran.
She was later charged with espionage and sentenced to 10 years in jail, allegations she has denied.
arb/mtp