Good news: The UK has developed a Covid-19 Vaccine.


...but you won't be getting it anytime soon. If at all.

Over the past few days there have been a few announcements that report to have been successful in immunising against Coronavirus.

Pfizer /BioNTech (UK), Moderna (US) and Gamaleya Institute (Russia) have all reported protection levels of 90% or more during their tests.

Origin Tests Protection Doses Method Storage Side effects Type
Pfizer UK 43,500 90% 2
(21 days)
Injection -80 °C none reported RNA
Moderna USA 30,000 94% 2
(30 days)
Injection -20 °C none reported RNA
Sputnik V Russia 16,000 92% 2
(21 days)
Injection 2-8 °C none reported Adenoviral based

How does it work?
The Pfizer and Moderna products are known as RNA Vaccines which work by taking part of the genetic code of the virus and injecting it which tells the body to produce the coronavirus spike protein. This prompts the body's immune system to produce antibodies and activate T-cells to destroy the infected cells. If the patient subsequently encounters coronavirus, the antibodies and T-cells exist to fight the virus.

When will you get the vaccine?
That will depend on where you live (globally) and how old you are. Age is the biggest risk factor for severe coronavirus. Older care home residents and care workers will be at the top of the list. People are then ranked by age. If you're under 25 don't expect to be vaccinated anytime soon if at all.

Will the vaccine mean the end of lockdown?
Yes, hopefully, but it will take some time. Immunising enough people, (about 60% of the population) and the virus will not cause outbreaks. This is known as herd immunity. If older sections of society are vaccinated first it may not be necessary to immunise everyone to achieve herd immunity. It simply may not be necessary to immunise young people. With a UK population of 66 million to reach herd immunity would potentially require 40 million people to be vaccinated. That will take some time.

Why will it take so long to be vaccinated?
Apart from manufacturing the vaccine in large enough quantities to go round, the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at ultra low temperatures (-80oC) and then refrigerated before use. The treatment also requires two separate doses upto 21 days apart, which adds a layer of logistical complexity. It's a manufacturing and distribution challenge.

What if the virus mutates?
Viruses mutate all the time. It's what they do. A new flu vaccine is developed every year to match the new strains that mutate. It means that the new vaccine will need to be tweaked to match any new coronavirus strain. The RNA vaccine technology is easy to adapt so it shouldn't be a major problem. Some age groups may need to take an amended version of the coronavirus vaccine every year, just like the current flu vaccine, which the nhs advise is given to everyone in the UK over 65.

What next?
We wait. We distance. We wash hands...stay healthy and we wait for pharma companies to manufacture, distribute and administer their vaccines.


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