The COVID-19 Crisis Needs More Than A Vaccine

River D'Almeida, Ph.D
5 min readMar 30, 2020

It’s going to take a lot more than a vaccine to ease the COVID-19 crisis. Disease-fighting drugs, testing kits and eliminating bureaucratic stumbling blocks will get us out of the woods.

The international scientific and medical communities are scrambling to quell the COVID-19 emergency, searching desperately for vaccines and antiviral treatments.

As a researcher for a biotechnology company at the forefront of the pandemic response, it’s been exciting to witness the phenomenal progress being made by the industry and the speed records being broken nearly every week.

All eyes are now on a potent coronavirus vaccine as the best way for preventing people from falling ill. Effective vaccines, however, take a long time to develop and even longer to test. Expert opinions suggest that in a best-case scenario, a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 infection may only be available towards the end of 2021.

Questions around the affordability, reimbursement, and approval of a future vaccine are still up in the air as leaders grapple with more immediate concerns. While research funding mechanisms are being put into place, not everyone is racing to cash in on being the first to market with a COVID-19 vaccine. A hive of behind-the-scenes activity has been reported, with pharma companies coming together to bridge scientific and technical gaps collaboratively, putting aside matters of margins, market potential, and intellectual property.

Ultimately, a COVID-19 vaccine will serve as a durable long-term solution, but its widespread availability will undoubtedly be restricted as production scalability, politics and economics create barriers to global immunization.

While vaccine development proceeds in the background, right now, healthcare systems in coronavirus epicenters and the global economy are on the verge of collapse. Stopgap therapeutic solutions and agile regulatory processes are urgently needed to help forge a permanent path out of the COVID-19 crisis.

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River D'Almeida, Ph.D

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