Vaccination is Our Only Hope

Vala Hafstað

“Our only hope of eradicating the novel coronavirus is if enough people develop an antibody,” Sveinbjörn Gizurarson, professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Iceland, tells Morgunblaðið.

“This natural defense is created either through vaccination or infection. When a sufficiently large group of people has developed an antibody, the virus has a tougher time spreading. That’s what we call herd immunity. This is something that nations need to discuss and plan,” he adds. He notes that there is truth to what Minister of Education Lilja Alfreðsdóttir wrote in Morgunblaðið recently, when she stated that until people can be vaccinated against the virus, a free flow of people to and from the country is unlikely to be possible.

Sveinbjörn has a great deal of experience in the field of pharmacology, having been involved in various scientific research and the development of drugs.

“In light of experience from other epidemics, I find that the measures taken here in Iceland have been very sensible and well thought out,” he states. Besides, it is good to see how well authorities have listened to the advice of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, to the chief epidemiologist and to the director of health, who have had to make difficult decisions, involving a great deal of responsibility.

He explains that it can take many years, even decades, to develop a new drug. He adds that drugs already on the market are being tested to see if they work against the novel coronavirus. In addition, drugs are being tested that have been developed against Ebola, for example, but have not yet been on the market.

Sveinbjörn finds it unlikely that the novel coronavirus will vanish. “[The virus] will no doubt lead to numerous changes in how we, here in Iceland, interact with other nations,” he states. “It would not surprise me if, in the future, people were required to prove they have an antibody against the virus when they travel internationally. It is hard to say when we can expect to have a drug against the [novel corona]virus. Only roughly three months have gone by since the virus first appeared in Wuhan, China, and the whole scientific community is cooperating in finding effective and safe treatments for COVID-19, which has caused so much damage.”

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