Vaccine Or No Vaccine? Why We’re Confused.

Don’t hold your breath for a vaccine
“We’re optimistic that a vaccine will be ready in a few months”

One of those is an article claiming that the issues around producing a viable working anti-COVID vaccine, the other is the Victorian Health minister on TV news claiming that progress is well in hand on a vaccine.

“We have the SPUTNIK-2 vaccine and are using it now to rebuild our economy”

Another quote is from Vladimir Putin saying that Russian people are being innoculated willy-nilly and to Hell with the consequences because it will get the Russian and Chinese economies back into full swing.

I wonder which quote is from whom? Also – there are stupid conspiracy theorist claims that the COVID vaccine being planned and developed by at least one biotech company will alter our DNA and quote “turn us into trademarked property of the company.”

Is it any wonder people are having mental health issues? There’s a constant push-pull-prod-yank-twist-twitch going on out there and not one single source has been creditable and – more importantly – consistently right – in the relatively short history of the pandemic.

Look – I believe that vaccinations are tricky to make, yes. And virus vaccines are especially difficult. We haven’t been able to muster a vaccination for rhinovirus that causes the common cold, nor do we have any single onetime vaccination for influenza virus. But there have also been some semi-successes.

And now we literally have almost every facility on Earth focused on this task, and if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s breaking down a problem down by sheer numbers.

And at the last time I checked there were several efforts that have all claimed they have promising experiments in progress, any of which could be a viable vaccine given proper testing and proving.

More to the point, do we have any chance that a vaccine will appear? I reckon the odds are good, but the goods may well be odd. There seem to be several strong contenders and perhaps we’ll end up with several vaccines. But that begs the question – if there’s one vaccine that makes us immune to COVID-19 and is safe to use – what does that mean for the other vaccines?

What I’m saying is that SARS-CoV-2 is a very specific target to hit with a vaccine. The vaccine that hits it will be very specific. The virus is also constantly mutating (which has been one of the things preventing us from making a successful vaccine for the common cold or the flu) so it’ll have to be one very specific vaccine.

That particular vaccine will not have had time to do years of tests and studies, so the ultimate safety of it won’t be known for years. The question then is – if there are a few that come up (and that seems to be the way things are going) then that means we shouldn’t jump at the first one that comes along.

There will always be people that want to be first. (I should be one of those since I have both a respiratory disease and an immune system disease – but I’m also going to exercise my option to not grow two heads, or worse…) I suggest that keeping masks and distancing for a few extra weeks won’t kill us, whereas something as under-tested and unknown as SPUTNIK-2 just might.

At last check I think I’ve read that there are over half a dozen vaccines that are in development / testing, which is probably a good starting field for at least ONE other antiviral to come out of. A more rigorously tested vaccine that has passed a few more stringent tests.

I’m going to wait until there are a few more choices, wait until one emerges that’s safe and effective. I know the economies of the world are on hold but there isn’t a single economy that I value more than I value my own life.

Without a vaccine we’ll have years of distancing, years of disruption to the economy.

With a safe and effective vaccine, we could be back on track within a few months.

But with a lethal vaccine, we’ll have exactly the same thing as having no vaccine, only for many of us it could be forever…

Our choice will matter.

Sidebar: SPUTNIK-2

Two world leaders have played VERY fast and loose with their populace’s safety, Putin and Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has repeatedly refused to take any action whatsoever to help the Brazilian people get through the pandemic.

While Bolsonaro may be a complete testosterone driven blithering idiot, Putin has a few more smarts. And SPUTNIK-2 makes a perfect case for me:

It’s fairly obviously not had time to undergo sufficient safety tests nor even really time to prove itself. Putin is fairly obviously trying to create an economic windfall for himself so he’s inoculating his populace and making noises about the Chinese also getting the inoculation and mentioning the probable power of their combined economies to convince other leaders to line their populations up for SPUTNIK-2.

The right thing to do is to watch what happens to those people, buy a trial quantity of the vaccine and run a series of tests that are under our control, and then make the decision. (Also, in the meantime, perhaps some tested vaccines might have come out of the Western ranks by then and the problem goes away.)

So I’m not agreeing that we won’t have a viable vaccine in the next few months, and I’m not agreeing that Russia has a working vaccine so why shouldn’t we just go for it. I’m saying that it certainly seems that at least one good vaccine will come out of all the efforts of the world these last few months.

All we have to do is stay safe until then.

Sidebar 2: Why I’m Writing This Blog:

I sort of decided on doing O Hai Corona in part because of all those conflicting reports, opinions, and announcements. It was a way to keep myself centred while all the confusion was coming down. OHC has been my stress release valve. And then I found that I was sort of scoring a goal or two myself every so often so I figured I’d keep writing it. I’ve put a few ways in place to monetise the blog – and actually received some support (much to my surprise) – so I’ll keep writing because obviously it’s been of use to some folks out there.

Ted

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