New COVID-19 vaccine trials have positive outcomes

By Tema Hemi

Despite news of positive outcomes in trials for a new COVID-19 vaccine, it could be a while yet before scientist find a cure.   

General Manager of Kokiri Marae Hauora Teresa Louise Olsen says, "I did read though when they're developing the vaccine that from the time they develop it until the trials are finished and they produce it, it could be anything up to two years before then it's available to the public and that's a worry because what happens in the meantime."

Yesterday out of America there were reports of positive results in human trials of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine out of the Moderna Biotech Firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This has brought hope to many throughout the world. 

Chief Executive of the Ministry of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says, "I think this was a very initial trial with about ten people and this is the very first step that is undertaken in the trial of any medicational vaccine. Its really to look at the initial safety and to see if it does have the response that is intended."

Olsen says prompt vaccine action is needed because many Māori elderly are still in a vulnerable state.

"Should the COVID get into our older population then we're done for. We don't keep that greater health now.  And we work with many kaumātua who have multiple illnesses. If we don't abide by the rules then it's our older kaumātua who are going to pay for that", Olsen says. 

Dr Bloomfield says despite this good news we need to remain vigilant and stick to the rules. 

"My understanding is there is about ten of the trial vaccines or vaccines that are being developed that are currently in the same stage. That is being trialled on people. What's great here is there is a huge international effort going on progress is being made and all the eggs aren't in one basket, there's a range of different potential vaccines being explored."

Olsen also says that the information around COVID-19 has confused many elderly Māori and many are left feeling helpless.

"Some of the information that's around is not very clear and we've had lots feedback from whānau who say actually we understand it better now."