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What's more effective? A COVID-19 vaccine or treatments?

Doctors from all three major hospitals in Cleveland share their perspective.

CLEVELAND — As many companies have been working to develop a vaccine, could a treatment for COVID-19 be more realistic or even better? Doctors from Cleveland’s three major hospitals share their perspective.

“Treatments and vaccines, they’ll come, but those studies really do take a long time,” says Dr. Dave Margolius with MetroHealth.

As researchers around the world race to develop treatments, therapies and a vaccine for COVID-19, experts from University Hospitals, MetroHealth and Cleveland Clinic all agree that we’ll need all of them to defeat the virus. 

However, while a vaccination will take some time to eradicate or control the virus, right now effective treatments are key.

“We don’t yet know how successful a vaccine is going to be for COVID,” says Dr. Keith Armitage with University Hospitals. “We think it’ll be successful, but I think if we had a cheap and easy to administer, highly effective treatment, then we might not need a vaccine.”

Dr. Margolius says, “It’s a tricky question. I think if you look at the history of infectious diseases, there are very few diseases that we’ve actually eradicated with a vaccine. A vaccine alone is not going to get us out of this.”

“Some people will not get vaccines,” says Dr. Culver with the Cleveland Clinic. “A vaccine won’t be available for awhile and a vaccine may not be effective for everybody so we have to be able to treat the disease to mitigate it. For now I think, in fact maybe for the next year at least, this will be the more important part rather than the vaccine.”

Besides treatments and vaccines, there’s still work being done on testing. The Cleveland Clinic is currently in the process of developing a type of breathalyzer test to help expedite detection

Dr. Culver says, “Large scale, portable testing, these are the sorts of things that could be used at airports, could be used at sporting events, where you could screen people and be much more comfortable having the sorts of events that we’d like to have.”

It’s a worldwide multipronged approach with everyone looking a different and better ways to fight COVID-19. However, while we wait for better treatments and vaccines, all 3 doctors say to mask up and keep your distance.

“Masks make a difference,” says Dr. Armitage. “So hang with the masks until we get a vaccine and we get to the end of this.”