Researcher: It's possible there won't be a COVID vaccine

Points to HIV as example of virus with no vaccine

Brian Kelly
September 18, 2020 - 12:07 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - While researchers around the world race to perfect a coronavirus vaccine, a Washington University in St. Louis researcher says it's possible they could all come up empty and no vaccine will ever be developed.

Washington University Center for Research, Innovation and Biotechnology Director Michael Kinch points out that that has been the case with previous viruses.

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"There are some infectious diseases and viruses that are not able to be prevented with vaccines," says Kinch. "An example of that is HIV.

"We do know that with seasonal coronaviruses, which are cousins to the current virus that's causing such harm, that often-times you only have about a year of immunity when you're actually infected, which is when the body should be most responsive. So, it's conceivable that the body may not be able to respond to this."

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While President Donald Trump says a vaccine could be ready by next month, Kinch says one likely won't be ready until at least late next summer. He says despite efforts to speed up the process, it takes time to make sure a vaccine works and is safe.

"It takes time for the immune system to turn on and it takes time to determine whether it's doing a good thing or a bad thing," he says. "Frankly, that's just time and unless we come up with a time machine there's no way to accelerate the pace of biology."

Kinch says because of the possibility that a vaccine will not be developed, we have to treat covid research like a mutual fund, with many different components.

"We need to have a well-balanced portfolio of therapeutics, of different types of vaccines and of different types of measures to be able to combat the virus and to detect the virus," he says.

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