COVID-19 vaccine pre-order on hold amid reminders that it is not curative

COVID-19 vaccine pre-order on hold amid reminders that it is not curative

As the world waits impatiently for a COVID-19 vaccine, Denmark’s chosen candidate has hit a stumbling block after a trial participant was admitted to hospital. It is not the only vaccine that is being manufactured, but it is the one that Europe had hoped for.

Meanwhile, Danish medical experts offer a bitter-sweet reminder that humanity’s hopes for a vaccine may be overestimated.

Instead, they argue that we need to look at improving treatment if we are to properly overcome the pandemic.

Danish savior on hold

Three weeks ago, a vaccine agreement was entered into that gives Denmark 2.4 million doses. This agreement, which was struck by the EU, concerns a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, but yesterday trials with the vaccine were suspended.

The vaccine, seen as one of the frontrunners in the global vaccine race, has been suspended after a participant was admitted to hospital with a suspected serious side effect. AstraZeneca described the response as “routine”, and so is the patient reportedly expected to achieve a full recovery.

It is a worrying stumbling block, but the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that elsewhere there are five more vaccines undergoing delayed trials: three in China and one each in the United States and Germany.

Denmark itself reached an important stage in the development of its own vaccine, when researchers from the University of Copenhagen reported on the success of its mouse experiments in June. Clinical trials with humans are expected before the end of the year.

READ MORE: Milestone as Danish coronary vaccine works on mice

Vaccines against vaccine hysteria

Before the setback causes too much alarm and disappointment, however, we are encouraged to keep in mind the clarifying, if disturbing, fact that a vaccine is not the only possible solution to the pandemic, nor can it be expected to be a fully effective one.

Discomfort with regard to vaccine hype is twofold: not only can we expect it to be a long time before a vaccine becomes widely available, but even when it does, it is unlikely to be the curative solution that some has exclaimed.

Most experts believe that a vaccine that has undergone adequate testing will not be available until mid-2021 at the earliest. This is still much faster than the development of most vaccines and a real medical achievement, but – with another wave looming – this still seems far away.

Even with the introduction of a vaccine, the virus will still pose a danger. For the older community – who are typically more vulnerable to COVID-19 than their younger counterparts – vaccines generally prove less effective as their older immune systems respond less well to immunization. The danger to them does not disappear overnight.

An ounce of treatment is worth an ounce of vaccine

Instead, it is important that we take an overall picture when we want to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. At least this is the view of Danish medical experts.

Morten Sommer, head of research at DTU Biosustain, DR admits that “the development of a vaccine is fundamentally important ”, but provides a reminder that“ the development of improved treatment is essential to make society function in the short and long term ”.

Improved treatment will not only make life easier for those infected before a vaccine is rolled out, but it will also help protect those who remain vulnerable even when a vaccine is available.

It is also Jens Lundgren, professor of infectious disease medicine at Rigshospitalet, who makes the worrying claim to DR that “I think most doctors agree that we do not yet have a treatment that is good enough.”

Sommer is even involved in trying a new treatment, niclosamide, which researchers hope could be significantly more effective in relieving the symptoms in those suffering from COVID-19.

A new concern

These views emerge from an increasing number of reports that COVID-19 may have long-term side effects – both in terms of continued and previously unseen symptoms.

Lars Østergaard, professor at Aarhus University Hospital, have described to Politiken the appearance of patients with late-stage symptoms as “completely different from anything I’ve seen before”. He reports young, healthy individuals entering the hospital with new symptoms, despite having previously recovered from the infection.

It is clear that the virus affects humans in a number of different ways, but there is currently a lack of research and understanding regarding its long-term effects. Given how little time has passed (despite how long it feels), this should come as no surprise, but instead serves as a reminder that our understanding of the virus and its treatment has a long way to go .

Source: The Nordic Page

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