The future of vaccines is a shot against all coronaviruses

Scientists are busy developing pan-coronavirus shots that could be deployed against a range of coronavirus

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Published: Tue 26 Apr 2022, 11:49 PM

First, the good news: the UAE has reported zero Covid deaths for 50 days. Credit is due to the rulers of the country who took the global lead in rolling out the free and massive vaccination campaign in late 2020 with a variety of vaccines. The jabs have saved thousands of lives and reduced deaths and severity of infections in a population of close to 10 million.

Figures show that 100 per cent of adults in the country have received at least one dose, the highest in the world; 97.6 per cent have received two doses, while 51 per cent have received a booster shot for longer immunity.

The vaccine drive has been robust, swift and effective. Cases have remained below the 300 mark for a month now. There are clear signs of a strong economic recovery as people attempt to get back on their feet after two tragic years in the pandemic wilderness.

Now the news should concerns us though there’s little reason to panic as cases in some parts of the world rise. Coronavirus is still mutating and the latest variant Omicron is constantly finding ways to evade our immune responses. It’s mixing and matching its genetic code and recombining as it attempts to get the better of vaccines. But there’s hope as scientists are busy developing pan-coronavirus shots that could be deployed against a range of coronavirus that may appear in the future.

mRNA technology has given scientists the edge against coronavirus. Virologists believe there is potential in this tech to fend off more dangerous pathogens that can emerge as man encroaches into nature.

What Covid has proven is that countries and research agencies can ramp up capacity during health crises to fight a common foe that is invisible to the naked eye. At the start of the pandemic, which was over two years ago, no one believed vaccines could be developed in less than 12 months.

Vaccines are now our best defence not just against Covid but other viruses too. Governments and institutions must take this momentum forward in the production of more effective universal vaccines while investing in genomics capacity.

The World Health Organisation has said this capacity would help not just track SARS-CoV-2, but also “detect and understand the epidemiology of other common diseases like dengue fever or tuberculosis.”

It is unlikely that this coronavirus will be eliminated or eradicated in the near future. It will be subdued but is certainly not finished. We have to live with it while taking precautions like wearing masks and maintaining optimum hygiene levels.

All this while hoping that futuristic vaccines make Covid a more manageable disease with nature doing the rest to heal the world. That’s the best-case scenario we can hope for.

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