Will a vaccine really bring the big breakthrough?
Research into a coronavirus vaccine is being conducted at high speed around the world. Germany's health minister Jens Spahn expects a vaccine for "early next year," he said on Friday. However commentators doubt a vaccine can stem the virus to the point that life without restrictions will be possible once more.
The Irish Independent fears that the question of appropriate coronavirus restrictions will remain even if a vaccine does become available:
“If we create a Covid vaccine with say a 70pc effectiveness, and even if 80pc of older people get it, that still means only 56pc of the elderly become immune to Covid. ... We need to consider that if a vaccine renders only half of us immune, which would mean even post-vaccine there could still be a Covid mortality rate of around 7pc among people in their 80s, then will a vaccine really be the game-changer we've been led to believe? ... Keeping us in rolling lockdowns until next summer, only to discover that the vaccine doesn't allow us to then fully exit that pattern, needs to be discussed.”
Studies are only partially conclusive
Unfortunately, current test procedures tell us nothing about whether the substances tested help the most vulnerable groups, the Times of Malta points out:
“The people who most need protecting, such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems (such as people undergoing chemotherapy), are not being recruited. But this is a standard recruitment approach for any clinical trial, so it is not unexpected. It does mean that the conclusions drawn about vaccine efficacy may not directly apply to those people excluded from trials. ... Ultimately, only when the whole population is vaccinated can the exact efficacy of a vaccine be determined. coronavirus vaccine trials are, therefore, expected to continue for years to come.”