One of the first questions asked when an infectious disease pandemic is looming is: “Is there a vaccine for this?” The short answer is “No”.
Human trials on a vaccine against coronavirus are due to start in April, with British scientists competing with dozens of laboratories around the world to be the first to develop a drug.
It is already working on the development of a vaccine against another coronavirus – Middle East respiratory syndrome – and in January, Cepi announced that a vaccine for Covid-19 would be ready for testing by the end of May. Such rapid progress is a remarkable turnaround.
Having a vaccine ready for testing is only the beginning of the journey.
The vaccine will have to be tested on animals first, and then humans.
What doctors are pinning their hopes on – more than vaccines – are drugs for diseases, such as HIV and malaria, that they are repurposing to treat coronavirus patients.
New mutations were also discovered in the case of a 61-year-old man from Brazil, although Professor David Heymann of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said a vaccine should still work on the emerging strain.