Several research teams across the world are taking a closer look at whether COVID-19 vaccine could be developed or not.
Two doctors, Konstantin Chumakov and Robert Gallo said that vaccines can be used for mass immunization only if they prove to be safe and effective by thorough clinical evaluation. So given the time this requires, vaccines specific to COVID-19 are unlikely to be available during the current pandemic.
The duo has proposed an approach to mitigate the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic through the use of existing viral vaccines. Oral polio vaccine (OPV), they say, has been documented to protect against some viral and bacterial infections.
They further added, “Apart from inducing the production of antibodies against the poliovirus, OPV activates other aspects of the immune system, including innate immunity that makes people resistant to a clutch of viral and bacterial infections. In clinical trials conducted in the 1970s during the outbreak of seasonal influenza, OPV was found to have shielded more people from seasonal influenza than some flu vaccines do”.
SARS-CoV-2 belongs to a broader group of viruses called the coronaviruses. Many just cause mild symptoms – nothing more than a cold. But a handful have caused serious disease outbreaks: SARS in 2002-2003, MERS from 2012 onwards, and now COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2.
The basic principle of any vaccine is to fool the body into thinking that it’s been infected by the virus (or bacterium) that causes the disease. In response, the immune system creates proteins called antibodies.
The pre-clinical tests have shown that the vaccine is effective at producing antibodies that stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from binding with cells. The vaccine also boosts levels of a type of white blood cell called T cells, another weapon in the immune system which kill virus-infected cells, slowing the virus’s replication
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that the coronavirus is going to stay in equilibrium for the longest time.