If every single person makes sensible decisions and containment strategies are used to full effect, even then, COVID-19 will not be stopped entirely. Precautionary measures can help limit the spread and damage done by a coronavirus, but they cannot stop it altogether. The World Health Organisation has stated that mass testing, along with precautions, can significantly reduce the impact of COVID-19, so it is recommended that you take initiatives to get yourself and your family preliminarily tested through facilities like Shifa4U.
Moreover, experts fear that the second wave of coronavirus in the 2020 winter could kill even more people considering that second waves of previous pandemics seem to be much more deadly. For these reasons, researchers everywhere around the globe are rushing to create a vaccine for it, but when can we expect one to be developed and distributed?
What has been done so far?
In January, Chinese scientists were able to sequence genetic material of COVID-19 and shared it with research groups globally – information that allows researchers to grow the virus so that it can be studied. This has given researchers a headstart in the process of developing a vaccine. One of the startling discoveries researchers made was that COVID-19 appears to have a similar genetic material to SARS with 80% to 90% of genetic material being the same, hence giving rise to a new name of COVID-19: SARS-CoV-2.
Currently, there are around 20 to 40 vaccines in development, with some of them being trialed – only two vaccines have begun human trials while many have begun animal trials.
How do COVID-19 vaccines work?
All vaccines, regardless of the disease, work based on the same principle. They present the virus to the immune system through a low-dose injection resulting in the production of new antibodies (proteins that fight pathogens in the body). This process is known as immunization, and in the past, it has generally been achieved by creating vaccines with live viruses. Using live viruses can be dangerous as the virus can evolve, become more aggressive, and require higher dosages – problems that researchers are trying to tackle right now.
What about mutations?
Mainstream media have been inducing panic recently by suggesting that there are up to '40 mutations of COVID-19'. However, this is not worrying news, and in fact, it is quite normal for novel diseases to have many mutations. 95% of these mutations are slight variations in comparison with the original virus and do not impact the virulence of the disease or effectiveness of a vaccine.
As of now, only one mutation seems to be significant enough to be considered a ‘strain’. Most experts consider there to be two strains of COVID-19, one being highly aggressive and the other being relatively less aggressive. It is estimated that 70% of infected people possess aggressive strain, while 30% possess less aggressive strain. This may prove to be a slight challenge for researchers working on a vaccine, but it will not impact the timeline of the vaccine development.
So, when can you expect a vaccine?
Since most vaccines are still in the development phase, and only a few are in animal or human trials, it may take another few months for a potential vaccine to be fully developed and trialed. Add another few months for approval, mass production, and distribution, and the result would be a waiting time of anywhere between 12 to 18 months before the vaccines become available to the public. Most experts believe a timeline of 12 to 18 months is reasonable, but if governments and organizations commit more money to the cause, a vaccine could become available during the next winter season.
A vaccine may be more than a year away, so the best bet for everyone is taking precautionary measures and testing as much as possible. If you begin to show mild symptoms such as conjunctivitis, slight fever/cough, and headaches, then it is recommended that you perform Imaging Tests on your lungs (preferably CT scan), Sputum Culture
and/or Fatigue Panel Testing.
If you observe severe symptoms, including breathing difficulties and shortness of breath, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible and possibly get a COVID-19 test done.