No guarantee that COVID-19 vaccine will be found soon, infectious disease expert says

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Expert evidence that suggests aged care operators will be required to protect their residents for much longer than originally forecast. 

Professor Jodie McVernon, Director of Doherty Epidemiology at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity at the University of Melbourne, has told the ABC’s Q+A program that she is worried there is “dogma out there” that a vaccine for COVID-19 could be found within a year to 18 months.  

The Professor said while she hoped a vaccine could be found, “it isn’t a guarantee”. 

“That’s why this needs to be a much more nuanced discussion about how we learn to live with this new virus, how we adapt to it over time, how we mitigate its risks and harms, how we keep looking for new therapies and other treatments that might reduce the death toll … and hoping for a vaccine, but being aware it may not come. That is important,” she said. 

Professor McVernon also said the idea of ‘herd immunity’ would not work in Australia. 

“We don’t know whether a single exposure to [Covid-19] is enough to be in the clear forever,” she said. 

“I think we need to understand much more about the biology of the virus before we would feel that was a safe outcome, even given the undesirable path to getting there.” 

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