(Reuters) – A top US scientist said on Wednesday that the government should not rely on a vaccine that was successful against COVID-19 developed in the near future when deciding whether to reduce the restrictions imposed to curb a pandemic.
FILE PHOTOGRAPHY: Ultrastructural morphology exhibited by 2019 Coronavirus Novel (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the first cause of respiratory disease outbreaks detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in the illustrations released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta , Georgia, USA January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; And Higgins, MAM / CDC / Handout via REUTERS
William Haseltine, a groundbreaking researcher in the cancer, HIV / AIDS and human genome project, said a better approach now is to manage the disease through infection tracking and strict isolation measures each time it starts to spread.
While the COVID-19 vaccine could be developed, he said, “I won’t rely on it.”
Previously developed vaccines for other types of coronavirus failed to protect the mucous membranes in the nose where the virus usually enters the body, he said.
Even without effective treatment or vaccines, the virus can be controlled by identifying infections, finding people who have been exposed and isolating them, he said. He urged people to wear masks, wash hands, clean surfaces and keep their distance.
He said China and several other Asian countries used the strategy successfully, while the United States and other countries did not do enough to “forcibly isolate” all those exposed to the virus.
China, South Korea and Taiwan have done their best in controlling infections, he said, while the United States, Russia and Brazil have done the worst.
Tests on experimental COVID-19 vaccine animals have been able to reduce viral load in organs such as the lungs even though infection persists, he said.
For treatment, patients have obtained antibody-rich plasma donated by people recovering from COVID-19, and drug makers are working to produce smoother and more concentrated versions of serum.
Known as hyperimmune globulin, the products are “the first real treatment spot to be carried out,” he said, predicting success also with studies of inhabited monoclonal antibodies and neutralizing the ability of viruses to enter human cells.
Writing by Deena Beasley; Editing by Howard Goller
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