Scientists and researchers across the planet are working overtime to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. But the World Health Organization warns that the development of a vaccine isn’t guaranteed, and there have been viruses in the past that scientists have never been able to create a vaccine for.
Dr. David Nabarro spoke with CNN on Sunday to talk about the development of a vaccine, warning that if there is never a vaccine, the world will need to prepare to deal with the virus as a new normal. Nabarro’s dire warning comes as U.S. President Donald Trump predicts that his “Operation Warp Speed” project could have a vaccine by the end of the year.
“There are some viruses that we still do not have vaccines against,” said Nabarro. “We can’t make an absolute assumption that a vaccine will appear at all, or if it does appear, whether it will pass all the tests of efficacy and safety.”
If that happens, it could mean that the world would need to learn to live with the virus.
“It’s absolutely essential that all societies everywhere get themselves into a position where they are able to defend against the coronavirus as a constant threat, and to be able to go about social life and economic activity with the virus in our midst,” Nabarro tells.
Meanwhile, as The Hill reports, Trump predicted that a vaccine would be ready by the end of the year, adding that doctors would advise him against making such a proclamation.
“The doctors would say, ‘Well, you shouldn’t say that.’ I’ll say what I think,” he said.
Most experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, say that January 2021 would be the earliest we could see a vaccine — and that is only if everything goes exactly as planned. Since the beginning of the outbreak, experts have said that it will take 12 to 18 months to deploy a vaccine broadly.
Dr. Peter Hotez at Baylor College of Medicine warns that the development of a vaccine has never been accomplished quicker than that, though it isn’t outside of the realm of possibility.
Right now, there are 14 potential vaccine candidates under development, with human trials currently underway.
But if none of the vaccine candidates work, it wouldn’t be the first time that a virus resisted science’s attempts to eradicate it. There is still no vaccine for HIV, for instance. But some experts say they expect COVID-19 to be easier to develop a vaccine for because it doesn’t mutate as rapidly as some other diseases.