Yale doctor weighs in on vaccine timeline, UK researchers infecting volunteers with COVID-19 for vaccine trials


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Recent COVID-19 developments out of the United Kingdom have caught the attention of infectious disease doctors worldwide.

The UK’s chief scientific advisor said in one report that COVID-19 cannot be truly eradicated like smallpox. Instead, he sees it staying around like the flu.

Yale Medicine Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Onyema Ogbuagu says it is hard to know with so many variables.

“Certain things like how long the immunity that people get after the infection, how effective the vaccines are, how durable the protection that those vaccines offer,” he says.

Also in the UK, so-called ‘human challenge trials’ where researchers plan to start infecting younger volunteers with COVID-19 and then try vaccines on them.

Dr. Ogbuagu says that has been done before with cholera and malaria. He says these types of trials have to be done with extreme caution.

“What researchers in the UK plan to do it use the lowest dose of virus that can cause infection in individuals, do very close monitoring, and evaluate different therapies,” says Dr. Ogbuagu. He does not think studies like that will be done in the US.

Dr. Ogbuagu says it is concerning that we are having a rebound in the number of COVID-19 cases in the US as health experts look to the future.

“Unfortunately, given that the projections are that the widely-available vaccine which we all hoped to happen to start to bring about the end of the pandemic really would happen much later than 2021.”

And that is why the doctor says it is important to continue our mitigation efforts of mask-wearing, hand washing, and social distancing. Actions he says people will be doing for quite a while to come.

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