The most important is how long the immunity will last. At the moment it is known that from 4 to 5 months and the natural one, after infection, from 8 to 10 months. As time progresses we will define more. Another question is whether one will arrive that stops the transmission, because they protect but do not stop the transmission, even if it is asymptomatic. Or if new variants will be fully recognized by vaccines.
Who would say who wins at the moment, science or covid?
For the covid, the people who infect it are an ally. And I find a lot of lack of solidarity in people who question the AstraZeneca vaccine, they say they want “the good ones”. We can’t get fancy. Although the efficacy is lower, 70%, it is a very good vaccine and is above those of the flu that range between 40% and 60%.
Which vaccines are sprint and which are marathon?
The first ones are the ones that have arrived the fastest and the others of long distance. Sprints are technologically simpler to manufacture and whose technology has not been used in the history of vaccination. They are the surprise with the AstraZeneca, the Sputnic and a china. The others, more conventional like the one in Madrid, based on the cow like the one on smallpox, use a more classical methodology, that’s the difference. It comes more slowly because less money has been put into Spain and few pharmaceutical companies develop it from minute zero. Laboratories with animals are lacking and their design is more complex, but they completely complete the coronavirus and immunity could be stronger and more difficult for variants or strains to escape.
Do you think that Madrid could be this year?
At the rate they are going, like Janssen’s, this year they will be able to go to the human trial. They are more complex but could also be more effective in the immune response against the total virus by design.
Is the lack of vaccines the worst problem now? Are we in the hands of the laboratories?
Laboratories are assuming an unprecedented situation. I don’t think any pharmaceutical company makes less because it wants to. Not even for the flu they do so many vaccines because they are aimed at risk groups, nor do they make for newborn babies. Now it is for everyone, an unprecedented challenge and no pharmacist would have foreseen it. And it is a risk if they are not manufactured on a very large scale because the question of me and my family is worthless if we do not vaccinate everyone. There are 130 countries without starting to vaccinate.
How much then does herd immunity matter?
It matters unless we become a watertight country and do not move. What is the use of Spain being immunized if immigrants arriving from Africa, Algeria and even Egypt are not vaccinated? Do we suspend commercial and tourist traffic? It is complicated and the WHO strategy of reaching 20% of the entire population is very insufficient, it is worthless. It would have to reach 70%. If you do not vaccinate as soon as possible, you can give the virus an advantage and new strains appear. The best is everyone as soon as possible, that would leave the variants out of the game. Vaccinating little by little causes the virus to spread.
Is it appropriate to vaccinate by age group?
It seems to me an excellent decision once the most vulnerable have been vaccinated, the elderly in nursing homes and first-line health workers. By professions, firefighters, teachers, it is more debatable. The elderly living at home seemed like the next group to me. They have not left for many months, scared and without moving.
Should we worry about the new strains, Brazilian, South African?
The general public need not worry. Researchers and health authorities have to be on alert, with a fierce vigilance on how they are progressing and if any new ones arise that could be more serious. Betting on the sequencing of variants would strengthen the system.
Should the vaccine be postponed for those who have suffered the covid?
Totally. And if not, a single dose. Given the shortage of vaccines, they are the ones who need it the least because they have natural defenses, even if it is not detected in the blood, by memory cells.
When do you estimate that we will remove the mask?
I hope we can take it off in a few months to go down the street. Another thing is that we put it on to enter the sites, but it will depend on the level of vaccination that we achieve and we must not leave behind that we are on the verge of obtaining drugs that allow the disease to be treated in hospitals more effectively. I hope more doses will arrive from March and more stable temperature vaccines. But the vaccination logistics of each community will have a great influence, it is interesting to do it as soon as possible and the staff is willing to vaccinate 24 hours a day, on weekends and holidays.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.