CAPE TOWN – South Africa is currently on day eight of its lockdown with anxiety levels at an all-time high largely due to the uncertainty of the situation. When will this pandemic end? How long will it take? Are all questions mainly pertaining to an expected date for a cure or treatment of Covid-19.
Jerome Kim, director-general of the International Vaccine Institute, says that it will take 12 months to see if a vaccine for Covid-19 actually works. He goes on to add, “several weeks to months to get the regulatory approvals”.
Regulatory approvals would consist of a review of the data, whether the vaccine works and whether it is safe for humans or not. And will be conducted through regulatory agencies like the United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
From this stage, it will then take one to six months later for a vaccine to be available.
A time frame of under two years is suggested before a vaccine becomes available. And this is primarily dependent on whether manufacturers step up production while regulatory bodies approve the vaccine.
But who will get the vaccine first once it arrives?
This will mainly be dependent on the manufacturer of the vaccine and the capacity to distribute it. There will be limited supply in the early stages of distribution, and frontline health care workers would be prioritised, along with the elderly since Covid-19 is more likely to be fatal to this group.
Current progress for a vaccine
The first vaccine trial was reported on March 18, which came “60 days after the genetic sequence of the coronavirus was shared”, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Since then, there are currently 20 vaccines being produced around the world.
The US held its first human trials last month. Jennifer Haller, a 43-year-old mother from Seattle was emphatic and took on the responsibility of being the first person to be injected with a potential vaccine. She said; “This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something”.
While in Australia, the first pre-clinical trial had begun by animal testing. The scientists have injected ferrets with two potential vaccines and hope to begin human trials when April ends.
The only preventative measures to date are to wash your hands for 20 seconds or more, wear cloth masks so those on the front lines fighting the virus have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and stay inside during the lockdown to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
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