The pausing of COVID-19 vaccine trials at AstraZeneca is a timely reminder that nothing in the sphere of scientific research is ever guaranteed. So, anyone who claims we could have a vaccine before November is either delusional or doesn’t understand science or both.
That is not to say that the clinical trials won’t be resumed. But a vaccine that could be rolled out to billions of people around the world needs to be 100% safe. And a few short months is not long enough to determine if the vaccine will have any long-term adverse effects….
…. It might work at preventing viral infections in thousands of test subjects. But that should only be just one of many considerations. A bigger question would be how might a vaccine that is, say, derived from an adenovirus virus found in chimpanzees affects us and future generations? That is not something that can be answered in a matter of months.
Worryingly, the US government is pushing for a vaccine ahead of the upcoming presidential election. That scares me. A vaccine is not a fancy motorised scooter or a piece of operating software where a minimum viable product or MVP will do. This is not something that can be fixed on the fly after it has been injected into millions.
That is why it is concerning that the US government is looking at fast-track authorisation of a vaccine – any vaccine. However, the World Health Organisation said this is not a race between companies, and it is not a race between countries. Instead, it’s a race against this virus, and it’s a race to save lives.
Unfortunately, some political leaders believe that it is precisely that – a race between companies and a race between countries. For them, it is not a question of whether the vaccine is absolutely safe but whether it is a MVP that is good enough to deliver an economic rebound.
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Disclosure: David Kuo does shares in all the companies mentioned.