- 18 Oct 2020
Recently, Sir Mark Walport, former chief scientific adviser to the British government claimed that COVID-19 likely won’t ever truly go away and would remain with us like the common flu. On the other hand, the chief medical officer of England made it clear to the sundry that a vaccine for COVID-19 may not be possible before 2021, no matter how tantalizing the propositions sound.
It is no myth that scientists and researchers all around the world are fighting tooth and nail to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. However, the vaccine formulated by Oxford University still remains the most promising and accountable vaccine in its early stages of development. In this scenario, England's chief medical officer has upset the applecart by expressing his scepticism over the availability of a safe and effective vaccine before the winter of 2021.
Professor Christopher John MacRae Whitty, an English physician and epidemiologist, who also happens to be the Chief Medical Officer of England and the Chief Medical Advisor to the UK government, said this winter would see "real problems" with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and that the UK should assume no vaccine would be available. Standing at this position, this inevitably means there is hardly any hope for the world too. Nevertheless, the physician was very hopeful about a vaccine that could be made available to the mass from the winter of 2021-22. Mr Whitty further added: "I would obviously be delighted if it came earlier rather than later but I'd be quite surprised if we had a highly effective vaccine ready for mass use in a large percentage of the population before the end of winter, certainly before this side of Christmas".
As the saying goes,' Hope for the Best and Prepare for the Worst', Mr Whitty confirmed to it, enhancing his argument by stating that it will be better if we plan on the basis that we will not have a vaccine. And then if one does prove to be effective and safe and available, in such a short span of time, then we will be in a strong position to be able to use it and that will be commendable. However, the veteran doctor did not forget mentioning his unflinching faith in the ability of science and technology to bring us out of the hole and also remarked that even miracles happen here.
This would have been alright and people would have still remained moderate and imperturbable if another top U.K. scientist hadn't regarded the possibility of eradication of COVID-19 causing coronaviruses null and void.
Sir Mark Walport, a former chief scientific adviser to the British government said that COVID-19 will likely be around forever and that regular vaccination will be needed to contain the coronavirus and prevent it from spreading. "This is a virus that is going to be with us forever in some form or another, and almost certainly will require repeated vaccinations,” Sir Mark Walport told the BBC in an interview Saturday. “So, a bit like the flu, people will need re-vaccination at regular intervals.”. Unlike diseases such as smallpox, “which could be eradicated by vaccination,” Walport said the novel coronavirus was more like influenza, requiring people around the globe to be inoculated “at regular intervals.”
Although the doctor did not hint on the pandemic continuing or the infection spreading on a large scale, the virus is still more likely to stay as a recurring problem even after the pandemic has been brought under control. His comments came a day after WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s comments that the pandemic could take around two years to get completely wiped off, noting the Spanish Flu lasted from 1918 to 1920. To this, Dr Walport, who also happens to be a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, asserted that advanced healthcare and medication would certainly land us a vaccine sooner than later, and the current pandemic will be gone before 2 years despite the larger global population, denser living condition and increased travel between countries today.
Image Credits: Times Magazine
On Saturday, the global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 800,000, with numerous countries ramping up restrictions in an effort to battle an eruption of new cases. In this time of crisis, we must be careful not to be too despondent, not to utter contagious pessimism and lead the world to global despair.