Effectiveness of the coming vaccine
“The best we’ve ever done is measles, which is 97 to 98 percent effective,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “That would be wonderful if we get there. I don’t think we will. I would settle for [a] 70, 75% effective vaccine.”
I was surprised to hear this. This doctor explains the situation further:
San Diego Union-Tribune interviewing Dr. Davey Smith, chief of infectious diseases at UC San Diego.
U-T: Much of the public is eagerly awaiting the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. I think many people assume that a vaccine would help just about everyone. But Dr. Fauci said that a vaccine might only be effective in 70 percent to 75 percent of the people who take it.
Is that surprising?
Smith: This is not surprising. Many vaccines don’t help everyone, i.e., (they’re not) 100 percent effective. The seasonal flu vaccine doesn’t work for everyone, but it is still the very best way to not get sick from the flu. The first generation of coronavirus vaccines may be similar. Even if it works for only a smaller percentage, it is vastly better than what we have now, which is nothing.
U-T: Fauci also said that the combination of a partially effective vaccine and the refusal of many Americans to take it means that the country would not achieve herd immunity, preventing us from defeating the virus. Do other infectious disease experts broadly share that view?
Smith: I share this view. It is unlikely that our first round of developed vaccines will be perfect and even if they were, not everyone will take it. The measles vaccine is almost perfect and we used to have herd immunity for it and now enough people are not taking it and we have regular breakouts of measles, putting people at risk. This is analogous to the mask issue. Not everyone is wearing a mask now, and we know (the mask) helps.
This means the virus will likely be circulating in the population for years. Therefore, we will also need new treatments to help those who get infected.
U-T: When we spoke to you a few weeks ago, you said it would probably take a year or more for an effective vaccine to be developed. Has your outlook changed in any way?
Smith: I still think it will take a year or more to get a highly effective, widely available vaccine. But I hope that is much sooner.
And, speaking of vaccines, the WaPo has a great article titled “How a secretive Pentagon agency seeded the ground for a rapid coronavirus cure” about how efforts started years ago to develop a system to produce antibodies for any virus in the world, and how these efforts have streamlined the search for a vaccine.