World Health Organization envoy says a COVID-19 vaccine may be tough to find

Despite efforts around the globe to develop vaccines for the novel coronavirus, the much-anticipated vaccine may never come, according to a report.

A doctor who serves as an envoy to the World Health Organization on COVID-19 warned of the possibility in an interview with CNN, saying that some viruses never see vaccines despite open optimism by leaders to find a way to return life to normal.

“There are some viruses that we still do not have vaccines against,” Dr. David Nabarro, a professor of global health at Imperial College London, told the outlet. “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.”

One of the key facets in the hunt to find a vaccine for COVID-19 will be for societies to learn to live with it. As cities around the US have started to lift social restrictions and reopened businesses, the report said that testing and physical tracing will likely become a norm in the short term. Even with potential treatments being developed, yearly outbreaks could still occur, the report warned.

“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 said.

Nabarro highlighted two viruses – rhinoviruses and adenoviruses – where researchers have had difficulty finding vaccines. The two viruses share a commonality with coronavirus — the development of cold symptoms.

CNN reported that experts remain optimistic that a COVID-19 vaccine will be unearthed because the virus does not mutate rapidly.

President Trump said Sunday that a vaccine would be ready by the end of 2020.

NBC News reported that 14 potential coronavirus vaccines are under development as part of Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed”, which narrowed its search after 94 vaccines were in development. The goal of the initiative is to produce three or four vaccines to be tested and cleared for usage next year, NBC News reported, citing officials.

Kyle Schnitzer is a staff reporter for Ladders.