Will we have a vaccine for the novel Coronavirus anytime soon?
Does it matter?
This isn’t a trivial question.
In fact, our approach to the Coronavirus has been to pin all our hopes on a solution we don’t control—the creation of a vaccine in a timely manner.
In addition to having no guarantee we can develop a vaccine in a timely manner, we don’t know if the vaccine developed will be 100% effective.
No one discusses the fact the seasonal flu vaccine is less than 60% effective—or that last year’s vaccine proved to be less than 40% effective.
Nor has it been brought up whether the unhealthy elderly population, hardest hit by Covid-19, could be given that vaccine without the vaccine first undergoing extensive testing—resulting in even greater delay—and more deaths.
The more pressing question: Should our collective efforts be solely based on the development of a vaccine?
No one has stopped to ask this seminal question.
Instead we run pell-mell toward vaccine nirvana.
In the interim, we do nothing to rid ourselves of the Coronavirus.
It is worth pointing out—isolationist policies do not eliminate the Coronavirus pathogen; they merely attempt to postpone the spread of Covid-19.
Given the mobile nature of the U.S., as well as global societies, coupled with the fact summer heat does not kill the virus—the U.S. population will remain at risk until something is done to kill off Covid-19. (Read: The Mythology of Summer Heat)
The issue: should we put all of our eggs in one basket?
That is in effect what is being done with policies developed around the concept of isolation while waiting for the miracle of a vaccine.
In the world of hard science—this is akin to solving a problem with a non-existent solution.
It’s called wishful thinking.
There is an alternative—while awaiting the creation of a viable vaccine, the U.S. could embark on the path of creating herd immunity. (Read: The 15% Rule)
Ironically, herd immunity could be developed within the U.S. population well before any viable vaccine could be made available—obviating the need for the vaccine.
Why isn’t this approach being contemplated?
Instead, the public is being told herd immunity is unrealistic given the assumed 50% or greater infection rate required.
But is the 50% number real?
During the flu season less than 15% of the U.S. population is believed to have contracted the flu virus. And even this number may be high.
It is worth noting the flu vaccine is generally made up of two components, an A and B.
In last year’s flu season the type B strain was identified as causing the most flu illnesses early in the season—to later be replaced by the type A strain (H1N1).
In effect, while both strains are the flu—they represent different pathogens.
What can we infer from this data?
Effectively, strain B of the flu was starved out, and replaced by strain A (H1N1) over the flu season.
In essence, herd immunity to strain B had been created in the population in less than 5-6 months—during the winter months—not summer months.
It is likely Covid-19 has been present—albeit in low numbers—since December 2019.
It is also well within reason the U.S. population could have developed a high degree of herd immunity in the 6 plus months it has been in our midst—if only we had followed the Swedish model.
This is perhaps the greatest negative consequence of “shelter in place” policies—the U.S. has had over 6 months to develop herd immunity—had it pursued the same course of action taken by Sweden. (Read: The Swedish Model)
What’s been lost by the “shelter in place” mentality—is lives.
Every day we delay eliminating Covid-19, those vulnerable to the pathogen remain at risk—and there are no absolute measures that can be taken to protect this group indefinitely.
We have a path forward—but only if we accept a vaccine is not our savior.