As the number of COVID-19 cases steadily surges past the 5 million mark globally, and health experts across the world work frantically towards finding a cure, a top US scientist has warned that a vaccine may not be developed in the near future.
William Haseltine, the scientist behind groundbreaking research on cancer, HIV/AIDS and human genome projects, has said that governments must be cautious while lifting and easing lockdown measures as a vaccine to combat the illness may not be possible in the near future. He advised countries to enforce strict contact tracing and self-isolation mechanisms.
“While a COVID-19 vaccine could be developed, I wouldn’t count on it,” Haseltine told Reuters. Previously developed vaccines for other types of coronavirus had failed to protect the mucous membranes in the nose — which is the area through which the virus enters the body, Haseltine said.
Citing the strategies employed by China and other Asian countries, Haseltine said that the virus can be controlled through means other than a vaccine. He urged people to follow guidelines and wear masks, wash their hands, keep surfaces clean and observe social distancing and self isolation.
“Do not listen to the politicians who say we’re going to have (a vaccine) by the time my re-election comes around,” he said. “Maybe we will (but) I’m just saying it’s not a slam-dunk case by any means … because every time people have tried to make a vaccine — for Sars or Mers — it hasn’t actually protected.”
While a vaccine typically takes years to develop, researchers and health experts from across the globe are working at breakneck speed to find a cure for this pandemic, which has claimed over 332,000 lives worldwide. There are already more than 100 potential vaccines being developed in different parts of the world. Experts have predicted that a vaccine could take anywhere between 12 and 18 months to develop.
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