For those hoping for a vaccine for this novel coronavirus, reality delivers some bad news: There has been no vaccine available for SARS or MERS, past respiratory viruses, so a vaccine for COVID-19 is a pipe dream.
"Efforts have been made to develop vaccines against human coronavirus (CoV) infections such as MERS and SARS in the past decades; however, to date, no licensed antiviral treatment or vaccine exists for MERS and SARS," Dr. Kuldeep Dhama wrote in an abstract for medical journal Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics.
This coronavirus is a sister to SARS and MERS, which like this novel coronavirus, declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), inflict with a very diverse bug, according to the report.
"Many efforts have been directed to develop vaccines against human CoV infections in recent decades, but a limiting factor is the degree of cross-protection rendered by these vaccines due to their extensive sequence diversity," Dhama wrote.
Also, because SARS and MERS have been rapid outbreaks with generally less impact on humanity in future years, pharmaceutical companies just have not devoted a lot of time, money, and scientific resources to developing vaccines. Basically, they come and then go.
"A major reason for the lack of approved and commercially available vaccines or therapeutic agents against these CoVs might be the relative lack of interest among the pharmaceutical companies," Dhama concluded. "These are outbreak scenarios: the demand for drugs or vaccines lasts only for a period while the outbreak lasts. The number of affected people will also be a small proportion of the global drug and vaccine market.
"So, by the time a new drug or vaccine is developed, there might not be any patients for clinical trials and also no meaningful market for newly discovered drugs. According to WHO guidelines, infected patients will receive supportive care including oxygen therapy, fluid therapy, and antibiotics for treating secondary bacterial infections."
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