Anxious for a vaccine - GulfToday

Anxious for a vaccine


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This has reference to your report, “Italian researchers claim world’s first coronavirus vaccine” (May 6). Billions of citizens across the world, irrespective of religion, ideology, caste and creed, wait with bated breath, for scientists to discover a vaccine to fight coronavirus. Never before, has the discovery of a new product, been so critical. Over a hundred research institutions are burning the midnight oil to find a vaccine including the Oxford University, Massachusetts-based Moderna, Beijing-based Sinovac, Biotech Pfizer and BioNtech, Inovio Pharmaceuticals and the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG).

Convalescent plasma is also being explored as a possible remedial option. It has been used to treat viral illnesses such as rabies, hepatitis B, polio, measles, influenza and Ebola. It was deployed in the treatments of MERS and SARS-1. Plasma therapy, a form of passive immunisation, unlike a vaccine which produces active immunity, has shown encouraging results.

Most researchers opine that the vaccine is atleast a year away. The world needs it today. Countries, states, communities are closing their borders, to prevent the spread of the disease.

However, Ms. Soumya Swaminathan, World Health Organisation’s Chief scientist has predicted that it may take four or five years before COVID-19 is under control. This is also echoed by Michael Ryan WHO’s Emergency Director. He has opined that the virus may never go away and we have to learn to live with it. This is disheartening news. PM Johnson of Britain has cautioned that we may not find a suitable vaccine at all.

Many nations in Asia like India, Pakistan, Myanmar, etc., and in Africa like Kenya, Nigeria, etc., are crowded countries. The wholesale markets, the metro trains and local buses are always fiercely crowded. How will people travel and work to make a living? And, if they have no money how will they feed themselves and their families? The social distancing shown on TV in many countries, with buses and trains, with one-third the normal passengers, will be impossible to maintain in countries with large populations like India or Bangladesh.

So, if a vaccine is not found soon, it could lead to a collapse of the world and our way of life, as we know it today. President Trump has often asserted that the coronavirus is manmade and came from a laboratory. Union Indian Minister Nitin Gadkari has also said that the virus has emerged from a laboratory. So, if the virus took birth in laboratory then it is possible to manufacture an antidote to it. We must succeed for our social and economic order to survive.

Rajendra Aneja — Mumbai, India

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