IT IS becoming increasingly clear that the hope that vaccines are the panacea to defeat Covid and therefore lockdown – in the short term anyway – is premature. As far as lockdown is concerned, in my view they were always a deus ex machina solution.
That is not to be an ‘anti-vaxxer’ or to say that vaccines do not have an important role in the mitigation and prevention of this disease as they have always had with other diseases, as Robert Clancy, an Australian professor of pathology, explains again in the most recent edition of Quadrant, re-emphasising that success depends on a near 100 per cent vaccination rate. He is clear that must be the ambition for the Covid vaccines.
Against this he sets out in clear detail the serious limitations of Covid-19 vaccines as developed to date, and why they can’t yet achieve this in view of the uncertainties and risks revealed by the trials. They are still experimental and since they may not be efficacious, public health focus needs to turn to treatment.
It is this section of his paper that captured my attention and strikes me as especially good and pertinent. He reports on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) now proved by treatment trials (which TCW alone in the British media has consistently reported on) and of ivermectin (IVM), both of which have been largely ignored or dismissed by medical opinion.
Here is a summary of Professor Clancy’s conclusions:
· The isolation and economic impact of lockdowns must have a limited horizon.
· Planning on the basis that all this will change following the introduction of vaccines needs reassessment.
· Early review of trial data, while showing short-term protection from significant symptomatic disease, must be tempered by evidence that infection is little reduced.
· Current vaccines remain experimental, as issues of safety and asymptomatic infection (and the infectivity of asymptomatic carriers and the implications of these observations for non- vaccinated individuals) are assessed, as must be the duration and level of protection in those vaccinated.
· This data is particularly needed for those most at risk. Uncertainties regarding the capacity of current vaccines to attain herd immunity due to continued asymptomatic infection dictate that additional measures to reduce the impact of the pandemic must be put in place.
· Two drugs used early reduce admission into hospital and death, including in those considered high-risk subjects, and they go a significant way to filling this need.
· These are hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and ivermectin (IVM), with most effective trials including nutraceutical, zinc and intracellular antibiotics. Both can be used as prophylactic or therapeutic medications.
· From uncertain beginnings, an impressive database has more recently accumulated that strongly supports the use of HCQ and/or IVM. Their use in concert with vaccines can no longer be denied; indeed this is the only science-based option (my emphasis).
· Governments must look at how best to manage vaccine production, as it is probable that ‘antigen drift’ will demand vaccine adjustment on a regular basis.
· It is important to reinforce the value of both vaccine and early drug treatment. The uncertainties as to where vaccines will travel reinforces the necessity to focus on early treatment regimens.
· While more effective drugs will be developed, currently HCQ and IVM fill a void and will save lives.
You can read Professor Clancy’s detailed, evidence based, scientific argument here in full.
Robert Clancy is the Foundation Professor Pathology at the Medical School of the University of Newcastle, and Clinical Immunologist and (Previous) Head of the Newcastle Mucosal Immunology Group, with special interest in airways infection and vaccine development.