Will there be a COVID-19 vaccine any time soon
In the face of coronavirus three scenarios can happen: first, people get immune to the coronavirus by being in contact with it, second, new drugs will be developed to manage the COVID-19 disease and prevent death and third the global effort to produce a vaccine finally results in finding one. Developing a vaccine is not an easy task and takes around 12-18 months. A vaccine makes you immune to the virus without infecting you. It teaches the body to produce antibodies that attack the virus if it gets in. The main challenge in this period is accelerating the process by starting clinical trials that should be done in three stages. World health organization has provided an outline with the title of “key criteria for the ethical acceptability of Covid-19 human challenge studies”. According to this documents the vaccine in its initial stages should only be tested on healthy adults aged 18 to 30 which have the lowest fatality rate at 0.03%.
How is the process of developing the COVID-19 vaccine?
There are around 100 groups all over the world working on finding a vaccine. The leaders of Germany, Italy, France, and Norway have raised billions of dollars to bring together the most brilliant minds of Europe to find a vaccine and treatments.
BioNTech SE, a German company is working with Pfizer on a vaccine called BNT16. This vaccine is already in the trial stage in Germany and the US. Pfizer is outsourcing the production of most of its drugs because this company is preparing for the production of the experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer hopes to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA to distribute up to 20 million doses in October and 1.5 billion each year. Pfizer has invested $150 million on this project.
Also, the researchers at the University of Oxford are assessing if the vaccines for other coronaviruses like MERS can be used to acquire immunity against the new coronavirus. This vaccine helps the body to recognize virus proteins and react to them.
Again in US researchers at the national institute of allergy in cooperation with Moderna, a biotech company, are working on a vaccine called mRNA-1273.
On the other hand, Remdesivir developed by Gilead Sciences has received emergency authorization and is being used in the USA and Japan as a broad-spectrum antiviral medication for patients with severe symptoms.
Meanwhile China is looking to administer the virus to the body to create a natural immune reaction without making people sick. China is also working on 4 vaccines. Sinovac Biotech has tested its vaccine on animals and is discussing with world health organization and other countries' leaders to have the clinical trials in regions with rapid coronavirus spreading.
In Italy the human tests are expected after summer for a vaccine that has contained the virus in laboratory settings.
In India, the Indian Council of Medical Research in cooperation with a biotech company, Bharat biotech, is trying to develop a vaccine using virus strains isolated in India national institute of virology.
There are also other studies working on the utilization of the vaccines and medications for other diseases for COVID-19. For example in UK Interferon Beta which is originally used for multiple sclerosis is being injected to COVID-19 patients in trials.
So, the virus won't be fatal anymore with proper vaccination, natural immunization, or management using other medications. But for now we should be careful and follow the social distancing rules.
2020 May 10