One Finite Planet

Covid-19: Vaccines and Cures

Vaccines

Vaccines represent a path to ‘herd immunity’, without all the trauma. People become immune by vaccination, not by catching the disease as part of the outbreak. Some vaccines result in a controlled mild case of the disease to create immunity, while other vaccines boost immunity in other ways, with no exposure to the actual disease.

For vaccination to be successful, ‘herd immunity’ is still required, so the level of around 60% of the population must be either vaccinated, or otherwise known to be already immune. The vaccine does not need to be given to those will the most severe health problems, but it must be given to otherwise healthy people. To be giving a vaccine to otherwise healthy people, and having those people have the vaccine in their system for years and years, you must be very certain the vaccine is safe.

Newly developed vaccines developed specifically for Covid-19 that have already began trials with still take 12-18 months to be widely available, given the process of proving new medicines safe and bringing them to market. Nothing that could work as a vaccine, even one originally designed for SARS, has been clinically tested to the level required.

Cures or Treatments

If there is a cure or treatment, while a ‘flatten the curve’ pattern is still needed to ensure the treatment can be provided to all that need the cure or treatment, if treating what would be severe cases avoids or significantly reduces hospitalisations and can come close to eliminating fatalities, the allowing a ‘flattened curve’ can relatively painless. Herd immunity at a far far lower cost! Further, if administering the treatment/cure requires less medical resources than lengthy periods in intensive care, the medical resources can deal with a higher case load. This allows a faster path to herd immunity, as well as a path with less loss of life.

Unlike with a vaccine, there can be the use of medicines already tested and available on the market to treat other diseases and conditions, that are being, or may be found to be, successful either in the original form or in combinations against Covid-19. Some research also suggest some success in this area and could result in treatments being available much sooner than would be otherwise as these medicines have already undergone tests and approvals.

Further, cures and treatments do not need to be as safe as a vaccine to start being used. While vaccines need to able to be given to healthy young people who are not ill at the time, a potential cure can initially be selectively offered to those who would otherwise not be expected to live long.

The effectiveness of cures is also clearer. If a cure only works 25% of the time, it can still be offered. Alternative cures can be applied to a patient until one works. Such an approach is not feasible with vaccines.

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