Viewpoint: How to Make a Faster Coronavirus Vaccine
By Max Nisen
There are a few hard truths worth grappling with when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic.
First, life may not fully return to normal until an effective vaccine is developed, manufactured in mass quantities and distributed worldwide. Anything but the cautious reopening of economies in the meantime will likely lead to significant second-wave outbreaks and renewed physical distancing. There’s no substitute for herd immunity.
Second, despite recent scientific advances and heroic efforts to speed vaccines to market, the 12- to 18-month timeline that public-health officials keep referring to is an aspiration rather than a certainty. Private companies and government labs are rushing vaccine candidates into trials, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll prove safe, effective and easily scalable. The world simply hasn’t made the sort of long-term investments needed for a pandemic-ready vaccine.
Emergency funding, hard work and ingenuity could well result in a relatively speedy vaccine. But the amount of uncertainty in that outcome and the death toll that will mount even in a best-case scenario suggest a need for a far more ambitious intervention.
Photo courtesy of Carlos Reusser Monsalvez.