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Opinion: It almost feels like ‘normal’ but it won’t until we get a vaccine

Opinion 15/05/2020

The following is an opinion peice by Leah Panapa.

As New Zealand moved into level two , the feeling we were almost back to ‘normal’ was a great! But in reality we won’t get back to normality unless we can stamp out Covid 19.

Most health experts agree that the need for a vaccine to prevent the virus is clear. Science magazine says "To return to a semblance of previous normality, the development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines is an absolute necessity" So it's hardly surprising that, around the world, anticipation is high. With more than 100 coronavirus vaccines under development, researchers are reasonably confident that at least one will be successful. Skeptics, and there are some, remind us that optimism about an AIDS vaccine was once high, and 40 years later there is no vaccine.What is the timeline for Covid being faster than previous vaccines?  President Trump has offered perhaps the most optimistic estimate saying he expects the United States to have a vaccine by the end of 2020. USA! USA! So far, it does seem as though the vaccine will be developed faster than ever before in vaccine history. ...It took more than two decades to come up with a successful polio vaccine, and federal health officials suggest a COVID-19 vaccine may be ready in a tenth of that time. But what if you don’t want to take it? 

Research published in the journal ‘Nature’ this week found Anti-vaxx views could become the norm in just a decade and that's concerning some kiwi experts. The study also found during the 2019 measles outbreak, some anti-vaccine clusters grew by more than 300 per cent, whereas pro-vaccination clusters grew by 50 to 100 percent,  The study has been peer-reviewed, meaning other academics in the field checked the author's work before it was published. 

University of Auckland associate professor and vaccinologist Helen Petousis-Harris says unless politicians, scientists, media and everyday New Zealanders took steps to prevent the spread of misinformation about vaccines this studies predictions will come to fruition.  

Despite the fact that vaccines are proven to save lives, many people still don’t want them. When the vaccine is made - if it can even be made - we will have to decide as a nation what is the best way to ensure we feel confident to protect our citizens. We can’t be forced to take something we don’t want to but what the alternatives will be is the next hurdle.