COVID-19 vaccine may not offer universal protection against all coronaviruses -WHO says

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, July 1, 2020

While work is currently underway to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), today the World Health Organisation (WHO) addressed disclaimers surrounding the vaccine.

Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme Dr. Michael Ryan, stated that the current vaccine being developed against COVID-19 is by no means guaranteed to be universal protection against other forms of coronaviruses.

Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director of Health Emergencies Programme.

“The pursuit of universal vaccines is a very positive idea, but as I said, it is easy to say, hard to do. […] It remains to be seen, whether a vaccine against this coronavirus will provide any cross-protection against other coronaviruses,” he stated.

Dr. Ryan highlighted that WHO has spent decades trying to achieve a universal vaccine against influenza (flu) and that has not yet been achieved and it may, therefore, be unlikely to do the same for the new coronavirus.

The current vaccine being developed against COVID-19 has encountered difficulties, due to the virus’s ability to mutate and the varying strains of the pathogen, however, WHO remains hopeful.

“Many of the vaccines being developed are being developed against surface protein of the virus. There is a constant variation in those proteins,” Dr. Ryan explained.

“We would hope that the vaccine being developed would be effective against this strain of the virus,” he added.

With the long-term effects presented by COVID-19, the WHO is hoping to see more pursuits of vaccines against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARs) and coronavirus as a long-term objective in the “vaccine development community.”

However, the organisation is focused on COVID-19 for now.

The WHO stated that several products are currently in the pipeline and clinical, trials are ongoing to develop a vaccine that is safe, effective and available for everyone who needs it.

“Those outcomes are not a given and we have a lot of hard work to do to be able to achieve that,” Dr. Ryan said.

Worldwide COVID-19 cases currently stand at the ten million, while, more than half a million deaths have been recorded worldwide.

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