An effective vaccine is being seen as a game-changer in the war against the coronavirus, which has already affected millions of people worldwide and shattered the global economy. The news that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine produces an immune response among the elderly is extremely encouraging as the virus is known to affect older people severely. The immune system weakens with age and so does the body’s ability to fight off any virus. The elderly have hence been at most risk from the deadly coronavirus.
If the vaccine does indeed work, it could allow the world some breathing space and give us a chance to return to some normalcy. Most importantly, it will keep our elders safe. While the vaccine isn’t completely ready, it is expected to be rolled out mostly in the first half of 2021.
The data from the early trials showing the positive effects of the vaccine haven’t yet been released but are being submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. Furthermore, AstraZeneca confirmed that the basic findings of the vaccine have been shared at a closed academic meeting.
The data from the trials have also shown that fewer side-effects were reported in the older volunteers. Referred to by the scientists as “reactogenicity”, the news of a lesser number of these side-effects among seniors is another positive sign as we look forward to getting the vaccine in the near future.
While the news of the safe immune response from the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is indeed encouraging, we will still have to wait and watch how things unfold in the next few months. Developing an effective vaccine involves a complicated procedure and a lot could still go wrong. Many experts doubt whether the first vaccines will be fully protective. They feel that these vaccines may lower the intensity of illness but not last and people would then need the help of boosters.
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That being said, there is still hope as apart from the Oxford vaccine, trials for coronavirus vaccines are currently taking place in many other countries as well. American pharma major Pfizer is developing a coronavirus vaccine along with BioNTech and is in the third stage of its trials right now. The experimental coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by CanSino Biological Inc. and Beijing Institute of Biotechnology was the first in the world to get a go-ahead for military use and is also in the third stage of its trails. Russia’s potential COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, is under phase three trials as well but the authorities are already testing the virus on over 40,000 people. Furthermore, Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen unit has started work on phase three clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine while American biotechnology company Moderna has completed enrolment of phase three of its COVID-19 vaccine.
These are all positive signs and there are good reasons to believe that by the first half of 2021, some potent vaccine against the novel coronavirus should be ready. Here’s hoping that things go smoothly in this regard in the next few months and the world gets some relief against the rampaging coronavirus that it so desperately needs.
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