While a vaccine for Covid-19 is not a magic bullet, it will play a critical part in managing the pandemic, according the Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, a health research charity.
“There are no magic bullets for infectious diseases,” Farrar said, during a news briefing by the Wellcome Trust on Wednesday. “It’s always a combination of public health, of treatments, of diagnostics, of behavior, of poverty, of course — and yes, in many cases where we’re lucky, with vaccines as well.”
Farrar used Ebola as an example, saying, “Yes, it’s fantastic to have an Ebola vaccine, but we all appreciate that it’s one part of the picture, and Covid-19 will be identical.”
He added that the vaccine will be a “critical” part of the picture. He said he is optimistic that of all the vaccine candidates that are in development, there will be vaccines showing safety and efficacy data that could make a big impact on the pandemic maybe during the later parts of 2020, but certainly in 2021.
“The first-generation vaccines will not be perfect, in my view, but an imperfect vaccine can have a major impact on reducing transmission and preventing severe disease,” he said. “And the second-generation vaccines will inevitably be better.”
As the coronavirus is a human endemic infection, Farrar said that societies around the world will have to learn to live with the infection, manage it and reduce its impact through vaccination, treatment and diagnostics, as is done with many other infections.
There is also the possibility that more than one vaccine will be needed if the virus mutates, and that new challenges could arise from new clinical syndromes or changes of the virus itself.
“This is with us for a very long time,” Farrar said. “With a vaccine or without a vaccine.”