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Gabriel Leung: 1st generation vaccines are not silver bullets

In an interview with the German public broadcasting service Deutsche Welle, Prof Gabriel Leung, dean of HKU’s faculty of medicine, said even when the Covid-19 vaccines become available, it might not mean the end of the pandemic.

A number of vaccine candidates have entered Phase 3 trials in various parts of the world.

“I don’t think that would be the silver bullet that many are imagining or hoping for,” Leung said, adding that most first generation vaccines are designed to reduce disease severity, not to stop transmission. “That’s very subtle, but critical difference,” Leung said.

As the global death toll of coronavirus pandemic reached one million and Europe started seeing an increasing number of hospitalisations, Leung said the death tolls would rise again on an increasing trajectory in a few weeks.

“That is almost inevitable especially when we now head into mid-autumn, and then late autumn and early winter. That is quite a sensitive period to Covid-19 recrudescence.“

Leung warned that governments should continue to adopt critical control measures, such as   border restrictions, non-pharmaceutical interventions of testing, tracing, quarantining and isolating.

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