Living with Covid-19 will be the new normal ‘for the foreseeable future’ as there is no guarantee of finding a successful vaccine, experts on the disease have said.
David Nabarro, professor of global health at Imperial College Londion and an envoy for the World Health Organisation on Covid-19, said that people around the globe will have to adapt to the ongoing threat of coronavirus.‘You don’t necessarily develop a vaccine that is safe and effective against every virus. Some viruses are very, very difficult when it comes to vaccine development,’ Dr Nabarro told the Observer.
‘So for the foreseeable future, we are going to have to find ways to go about our lives with this virus as a constant threat.
‘That means isolating those who show signs of the disease and also their contacts. Older people will have to be protected. In addition, hospital capacity for dealing with cases will have to be ensured. That is going to be the new normal for us all.’
Meanwhile Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at Oxford University, who is leading a team developing a Covid-19 vaccine, also said nobody can be sure that it is possible to find a workable vaccine.He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘That’s why we have to do trials to find out. The prospects are very good, but it is clearly not completely certain.’
Prof Gilbert said that her team has not immunised anyone yet, but they hope to start clinical trials towards the end of next week.
‘We are waiting for the final safety tests to be done on the vaccine and the final approvals to be given.’
In the meantime, permission has been given to recruit volunteers, take blood tests, explain the process and check their health status, she said.
‘By the time we have all the approvals for the vaccine ready, we should have a good pool of volunteers to draw from and we should be able to get going quite quickly.’
It comes as other researchers around the world desperately work on developing a vaccine.
The Sunday Times has reported scientists are investigating using llamas in the quest, with a new Belgian study showing antibodies obtained from llama blood can help neutralise the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19.
With lab rats and mice having also been used in coronavirus research, South Korean scientists say ferrets could have a role to play in testing vaccines too because when infected with Covid-19 they responded similarly to humans, the Times said.
Meanwhile, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt says the pandemic has shown the need for countries to work together in a new global health system involving better co-operation between governments.
Mr Hunt told The Observer global health security would now be ‘on that small but critical list’ of issues, such as climate change, that can only be solved through international working.