There have been times during these past eight months when it seemed as if this present pandemic would become our future too, that we all might be consigned to living with restrictions and curtailment of our movements, that the life we knew before might indeed be gone for good.
But that has changed and, yes, there is now the first light on the horizon — tentative and tantalising steps in our quest to discover a vaccine. On Monday, a major breakthrough was announced in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine, with the jab from Pfizer and BioNtech found to be more than 90 per cent effective. It has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries and no safety concerns have been raised. The analysis was carried out after 94 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were found among those taking part in the trial.
Over the past decades, since Pasteur, Fleming, Salk and a legion of others worked to give us vaccines and medicines to cure other deadly afflictions and diseases, we have benefited from our ability to collaborate and work collectively. Throughout 2020, never before have so many minds worked together to find a vaccine. We seem to almost be there
The jab is known as a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, which uses the virus’ genetic code rather than any part of the virus itself. It is injected into the body where it enters cells and tells them to create antigens. Two injections into the arm three weeks apart provide the impetus.
Bringing the virus under control
It is early days but this is the best hope so far — there are some 200 vaccines in various stages of trials around the world — that we may finally be able to bring this virus under control. Make no mistake, this vaccine is not without issues. It needs to be stored at very low temperatures. Right now, it needs to be administered in two injections 21 days apart to be effective, and there are fears that some might only take one injection in the process and skip the second. But these are logistical and administrative issues that can be worked out. If anything, this pandemic and the changes it wrought have proven that public health officials and governments are fully capable of implementing both logistical and administrative issues.
Over the past decades, since Pasteur, Fleming, Salk and a legion of others worked to give us vaccines and medicines to cure other deadly afflictions and diseases, we have benefited from our ability to collaborate and work collectively. Throughout 2020, never before have so many minds worked together to find a vaccine. We seem to almost be there. Yes it may take months to produce and roll out the billions of doses required to us all. But there is hope — and that is a panacea in this pandemic.