Mixed signals on Covid vaccine timeline, effectiveness

Over in the United States, Fuhrer Trump is maintaining that a Covid-19 vaccine is in the offing. Or to use his word, a vaccine will be available “momentarily.”

Trump made the dubious assertion Monday after leaving the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was being treated for coronavirus. He has since recovered and is now claiming that his infection was a “blessing from God.”

Experts in the US have been unequivocal in contradicting the president’s vaccine timeline. For example, Dr Paul Pottinger, a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, told USA Today that a widely available vaccine is “many, many months” away.

“Remember, there’s always that delay between when we know something is safe and effective and when it is then available to be generally deployed,” he explained. “But, there will not be a safe, generally effective, generally deployable vaccine any moment, I’m very confident of that.”

Australian officials appear to be in agreement with that assessment. The new Budget papers state that it is “very unlikely” that a Covid vaccine will be available to the Australian public by next summer.

The best case scenario, according to the papers, would see a vaccine distributed to Australians beginning July 1 2021.

It’s a far cry from what Canberra told us just last month, which was that a percentage of the population could be vaccinated by January thanks to early access to Oxford’s AstraZeneca vaccine. The government has earmarked $1.8 billion to secure 84 million doses of Covid vaccines when they become available. It said it expects to have 3.8 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine by February.

As I wrote previously, the AstraZeneca trial has been suspended twice after two participants came down with alarming neurological symptoms. It has yet to be resumed in the US.

Speaking to ABC, Australian Medical Association President Omar Khorshid raised doubts about how effective the vaccine will be once its approved.

“The most likely outcome is that the vaccine is partially effective, limited in the number of people who develop a response or it’s only effective for a short duration.”

It’s worth noting that, according to World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, there is “hope” that a vaccine will be ready before the end of the year.