Even if a vaccine is available next year for COVID-19, it could take years to vaccinate the world.

That is a big “IF”. There are many issues with finding a vaccine for coronavirus. In very short some include:

  • There has never been a vaccine for a coronavirus (one of the main causes of the common cold),
  • It usually takes many years to develop a vaccine,
  • For a vaccine to be effective, a large portion of people need to “seroconvert”, that is develop immunity to the vaccine. Recent studies have show that only 60% of people who have acquired COVID-19 through the community develop protective antibodies, and
  • The vaccine needs to produce long term immunity. Some studies have shown that in those who develop antibodies to COVID-19 after infection, that immunity wanes by 23-fold within only a few months. This may require multiple booster vaccinations at 2-3 month intervals.

With the above concerns aside, there are other issues too, like:

  • There are about 8 billion people on earth. At best, if all world vaccination production is switched to producing a viable vaccine, the world vaccination manufacturing capacity is estimated at 6.4 billion p.a. If, those vaccines require 2 or 3 doses, then that is a few years of vaccine production at maximum capacity to vaccinate the whole world.
  • Then there is the challenge with vaccine distribution. Vaccines need to be kept strictly between 2 and 8 degrees C. It is estimated that 50% of world vaccines fail the “cold chain” and so if there is 50% wastage, then world production would need to further double. How do we get the vaccine between 2-8deg C to remote areas of Asia, Africa and South America, just to mention some remote locations?
  • Will vaccine distribution be equitable worldwide? If wealthy countries buy up the supplies of the vaccine, and poorer countries which are in hot spots cannot get supply and not for a long time, then the virus may continue to rage on around the world for longer too.

Getting a good vaccine, with minimal side effects, that produces long-lasting, high levels of seroconversion to the whole world will be herculean effort.

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