COVID-19 Update: Heart Inflammation, Immunity and Vaccine Timeline
As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts that a coronavirus vaccine may be ready as early as April for all Americans to use.
Dr. Fauci said front-line health care workers are expected to get their first dose by the end of December or early January. Then, those who are at risk of severe infection or disease will receive the vaccine. Following this, the healthy general population is expected to get their first doses from April to July.
Dr. Fauci said that if all goes well, and most of the population is vaccinated by the fall, people can start to expect pre-pandemic normalcy.
Getting all Americans to use a vaccine won’t come easy as many Americans, especially people of color, have a historic distrust in the nation’s medical system.
Moderna, the company developing a COVID-19 vaccine with the federal government, made a concerted effort to include minority representation in clinical trials, Fauci said.
“We said that we want representation in the elderly, white, brown, Black, people with underlying conditions, so that we can get a feel if it’s effective across the board,” Dr. Facui said, according to Yahoo. “And not just a “white man’s vaccine.”
A coronavirus vaccine may be especially important during this time as Americans who have recovered from the virus have reported more chronic heart conditions. More specifically, Dr. Fauci reported possible heart inflammation in people who have recovered.
A German study found that by using MRIs on those who have recovered from the virus, 78% had cardiac involvement.
Dr. Fauci also pointed to another study of college athletes, showing that of those infected with the virus and underwent cardiac MRI, 15% had findings consistent with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.
“This needs to be repeated in other labs and followed up,” Dr. Fauci said, according to Yahoo. “But if it is true, it’s something we need long-term follow up (on).”
Despite the long term health implications that COVID-19 has, it’s still unknown how immunity to the coronavirus may last. However, a recent study found that people can be immune to the virus for years, and possible decades.
Those who tested positive for COVID-19 eight months ago and have recovered, still have immune cells to fend off the virus and prevent illness, according to the study.
The new study goes along with another finding that found survivors of SARS, caused by another coronavirus, still carry certain important immune cells 17 years after recovering. “I don’t think it’s an unreasonable prediction to think that these immune memory components would last for years,” said Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona, according to the New York Times.