China's chief epidemiologist says coronavirus vaccine not 'cure-all'

COVID-19 vaccines may be largely ineffective if antibodies last only two to three months

Chinese CDC Chief Epidemiologist Wu Zunyou. (Facebook photo)

Chinese CDC Chief Epidemiologist Wu Zunyou. (Facebook photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Wu Zunyou (吳尊友), chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control (CDC), on Friday (June 26) cautioned that a coronavirus vaccine might not be a "cure-all" solution to the pandemic — as many are anticipating.

In an interview with China Youth Daily, the senior medical expert pointed out that a vaccine is being seen as a solution, but that it might not be permanent. He added the more he learns about the unusual structure and high mutation rate of COVID-19, the less optimistic he feels about the situation.

Wu explained that both SARS and MERS are caused by novel coronaviruses, against which scientists have been unable to develop licensed vaccines. He said recent studies showed COVID-19 antibodies in recovered patients can plummet within two to three months, which suggests that vaccines designed to encourage antibodies may also be ineffective.

Wu noted that it was not clear that antibodies produced to fight off the virus would provide any protection against re-infection, while the short-lasting antibodies would mean people had to be regularly vaccinated. He stressed that if recovered patients were not immune to COVID-19, then he would not expect vaccines to make much of a difference, reported ETtoday.

Despite his doubts, the CDC head said he remained hopeful that vaccines could prevent coronavirus from infecting people more than once. He also revealed that a COVID-19 vaccine may be produced by the end of this year or the start of next, reported CNA.