Altschuler E, Kariuki Y Was the Justinian Plague caused by the 1918 flu virus?. Med hypotheses. 2008; 72:(2)

Boylston A The origins of inoculation. J R Soc Med. 2012; 105:(7)309-313

Duncan CJ, Scott S What caused the Black Death?. Postgrad Med J. 2005; 81:(955)315-320

Drug Target Review. News: MERS vaccine candidate could hold promise for COVID-19 vaccine. 2020. (accessed 3 June 2020)

Glasper EA Enhancing the uptake of vaccines in childhood. Comprehensive Child and Adolescent Nursing. 2019; 42:(3)161-166

Exclusive: Exercise Cygnus warned the NHS could not cope with pandemic three years ago but ‘terrifying’ results were kept secret. 2020. (accessed 3 June 2020)

Groups sow doubt about COVID vaccine before one even exists. 2020. (accessed 3 June 2020)

COVID-19. Visualizing the history of pandemics. 2020. (accessed 3 June 2020)

‘Monkey, rat and pig DNA’: How misinformation is driving the measles outbreak among ultra-orthodox Jews. 2019. (accessed 3 June 2020)

Patterson KB, Runge T Smallpox and the Native American. Am J Med Sci. 2002; 323:(4)216-222

Vaccine Knowledge Project. Types of vaccine. 2019. (accessed 3 June 2020)

World Health Organization. SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). 2020a. (accessed 3 June 2020)

World Health Organization. WHO coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Dashboard. 2020b. (accessed 3 June 2020)

The quest to find an effective vaccine for COVID-19

02 July 2020
Volume 31 · Issue 7


Professor Alan Glasper delves into history and discusses the unprecedented international race to develop an effective vaccine against COVID-19

With newspaper headlines reporting it is unlikely that a coronavirus vaccine will be ready to manufacture on a mass scale until the second half of 2021—caveat being that this will depend on successful trial results—the race is on to accelerate the time scale.

Coronaviruses include a range of organisms that can cause diseases, including the common cold and the current SARS-CoV-2. Despite the original severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus emerging in 2003, the current pandemic, caused by the related novel coronavirus, COVID-19, appears to have taken the world by surprise.

The 2003 SARS epidemic never reached pandemic proportions but nonetheless affected 26 countries. It resulted in more than 8000 cases and nearly 800 deaths (World Health Organization (WHO), 2020a), but a vaccine was never developed. A similar disease, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), also caused by a coronavirus, emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Fortunately, for the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 several vaccines for MERS are in the development stages, and these can hopefully trigger the development of antibodies and T cell immunity. Because MERS is caused by a close relative of COVID-19, the basis for a successful vaccine appears promising (Drug Target Review, 2020).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting Practice Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for general practice nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month