Safe COVID-19 vaccine won't be available for 'at least one year': UBC expert
VANCOUVER -- A UBC expert is warning a safe vaccine for COVID-19 is still at least a year away.
Horacio Bach is an adjunct professor with UBC's Division of Infectious Diseases. He told CTV News that even if companies can develop vaccines quickly, it still takes time to test if the vaccine is effective.
"You need to wait for a while because it's not enough that people can produce antibodies in the first month," Bach said. "You have to see if your antibodies can last for at least one year."
Vaccine trials typically go through three phases and only a handful of companies have moved into Phase 3, recruiting tens of thousands of volunteers.
Bach says in the United States, the FDA expects a vaccine will produce "antibodies in at least 50 per cent of the people that were vaccinated" in order to be deemed a success.
Bach's warning comes the same day that Canada's top doctor shot down the idea that a vaccine would spell the end of the pandemic. The country's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said that vaccine or not, health officials are preparing to deal with the presence of the novel coronavirus and prevention of further spread for years to come.
"It's likely that there won't be enough vaccines for the population as the vaccine rolls out. So there'll be prioritization. We're planning, as a public health community that we're going to have to manage this pandemic, certainly in the next year but planning in the longer term, the next two to three years, during which the vaccine may play a role."
Bach also revealed another research project underway at UBC. He and his team are working on an antibody inhaler for people already diagnosed with the disease.
"Once you detect COVID-19, you begin the inhalation," he said. "Ideally with an inhaler so directly into the lungs, directly to the focus of the disease."
His team is in the process of selecting the antibodies, which he says will take a couple of weeks. Only one lab on the UBC campus allows direct access to the COVID-19 virus and Bach hopes his team will be able to start their work with it by the end of the month.