Is a COVID-19 Vaccine the Cure?
August 15, 2020
To date, there has never been a successful cold or flu vaccine, but only a "moderately" successful flu vaccine that temporarily improves the ability to fight off the virus. Knowing this about the cold or flu vaccine should lead us to question how effective a COVID-19 vaccine will truly be.
Let's take a look at some main points about vaccine (prevention), as well as the therapeutic treatment of sick COVID-19 patients to help us answer this question.
- Vaccine treatment is meant to be preventative, not therapeutic. In other words, you don't use it to treat already sick people.
- Flu vaccines work to raise your level of antibodies to the virus, so you can better fight it off. In other words, you'll still get the flu, but a milder case.
- Cold and flu viruses change all the time. Every year, health experts forecasts how the flu virus will evolve and what strains will be most prevalent. COVID-19 like the flu will evolve and any vaccine created this year, will likely be ineffective next year.
Therapeutic Treatment (treatment of sick COVID-19 patients)
- The 1st line of defense is respiratory support such as oxygen and intravenous fluids. Azithromycin and an antibiotic are usually given.
- Tamiflu is a therapeutic drug you take for the flu to keep the virus from replicating in your cells. It works well on most flu viruses. It is not so effective against SARS-CoV.
- Prevention of the cytokine storm, which often precipitates multisystem organ failure is usually done with high dose steroids such as Decadron.
- Use of ventilators. These outcomes have been particularly poor, leading to the suspicion that positive end-expiratory pressure may be a bad strategy.
- The use of medications that may interfere with the virus entry into the cell and/or replication of its RNA (the structure and genetic makeup of the virus). These medications include Remdesivir, zinc, Tamiflu, and Plaquenil.
- Treatment with antibody rich plasma or synthetic antibodies. This has been highly effective at all stages of disease, and can be used in different combinations for varying strains of virus, including COVID-19, MERS, and other SARS viruses. (For the time being, in the specific instance of severe COVID-19 infections, the most easily accessible antibody serum is obtained from patients who have recovered from the virus. In the longer run, as we amass a library of various antibodies, we can do combined therapy similar to the way cancer chemotherapy is done.)
In conclusion, the COVID-19 vaccine is not a miracle cure. The therapeutic treatment with antibody rich plasma or synthetic antibodies has been successful at treating the most vulnerable and sickest patients with very high, nearly 100% success rate. The treatment is currently in clinical trials and looks extremely promising.