The Standard April 30, 2020
A few months ago I had no idea that coronaviruses were a family of viruses which caused illnesses like the common cold. I had even less of an idea, if that were possible, that they also caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Since COVID-19 is caused by a virus closely related to the one which causes SARS, this new virus officially was named “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” or SARS-CoV-2 by scientists. As it turns out, past research on SARS and MERS vaccines could help with potential approaches for the vaccine for the COVID-19 disease. Countless researchers across the globe currently are racing to create it.
There are different kinds of vaccines and their development can take years. Live vaccines use a weakened form of the germ that causes a disease to prompt an immune response without causing disease and are used to protect against chickenpox, smallpox, measles, mumps and rubella. Inactivated vaccines, on the other hand, use an inactive or killed version of the germ that causes a disease to prompt an immune response but not an infection and are used to prevent the flu, hepatitis A and rabies. They often require multiple doses followed by booster doses to provide long-term immunity. Live vaccines tend to provide stronger protection than inactivated ones. There are also vaccines which are genetically engineered but none have been approved for human use. A vaccine usually takes 12-18 months or more to develop and test in human clinical trials. We cannot say with certainty that a vaccine will be developed for every major infectious disease.
Whatever the timetable for the coronavirus pandemic, we have a God who is all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful. The Creator of this world is the author of science and indeed holds us in his hands. In the Trinity, everything fits together. We do not have to worry or be afraid.
Jesus affirmed in the Sermon on the Mount, “’Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’” (Matthew 6:25-34)