Coronavirus pandemic has brought the world under one roof as the virus has engulfed over 192 countries. Researchers and scientists are working day and night on over 135 vaccines that can battle against the deadly virus.
Although the development of a vaccine involves crucial steps and years of research-testing before it reaches the clinic, the word needs a vaccine as soon as possible. Researchers and scientists are burning the midnight oil and galloping to produce the vaccine by next year.
The work on the vaccine for the treatment of coronavirus began in January with the decryption of the SARS-CoV-2 genome. The first vaccine trial on humans started in March 2020, but with inexplicit results.
Many results were disappointing while many ended with ambiguous results. A few of the vaccines succeed in stimulating the immune system to produce effective antibodies against the virus, as per the nytimes.com report.
Let’s have a look at the status of vaccines and consequent trials on humans, and also testing on cells or animals.
As we have mentioned above that before reaching the clinic, various stages are involved in the development of the vaccine.
Presymptomatic Testing Stage: In this stage, scientists test vaccines on animals like mice or monkeys to check if it produces an immune response.
Look at other trial processes:
- Safety Trials: During this stage, scientists and researchers test the vaccine on a small number of people to test the effects of the dosage and also check whether it stimulates the immune system.
- Expanded Trials: Under this process, scientists target hundreds of people and divided them into groups like children and the elderly, to see how vaccine acts differently in the different aged group.
- Comparison: At this stage, scientists give the vaccine to thousands of people and wait to check that how many get infected, compared with volunteers who received a placebo. With the effect of the vaccine, scientists can determine whether the vaccine can fight against the virus or not.
- Approval stage: Countries working on the vaccines will review the trial results and then decide whether the vaccine can be approved or not. In the wake of coronavirus pandemic, there are the chances that vaccines can be used for emergency purposes before it receives formal approval.
Another way by which scientists are planning to accelerate the development of vaccines is by following combined phases.
As of now, some vaccines are in Phase I or Phase II, so by combining them, the development of the vaccine can be done at a greater speed.
Operation Warp Speed:
According to the reports in The New York Times, Operation Warp Speed program is the US government’s program that has selected five vaccine projects to receive billions of dollars in federal funding and support before there’s proof that the vaccines work.
Check out the list:
It is the German company that has collaborated with the New York-based company i.e. Pfizer and the Chinese drugmaker Fosun Pharma in a bid to develop their mRNA vaccine.
Earlier in May, the New York-based company Pfizer announced its trials on humans. The other benefit of the US govt run program Warp Speed, Pfizer is hoping to have a few million doses for emergency use if everything goes in the right direction.
mRNA vaccine of Moderna staggered the stock market in May with the Phase I data on just eight people in a bid to check its stock price drop when experts had a lukewarm reaction to the result. Under the operation Warp Speed, the American company is eyeing on the Phase III trials that are expected to be held in July and are hoping to invent the vaccine by early 2021.
3. Imperial College London:
The researchers of the Imperial College have developed a ‘self-amplifying’ RNA vaccine, which helps stimulate the immune system. According to the US media reports, the college is planning to start its Phase I/II trials on June 15 with the partnership of Morningside Ventures to manufacture the vaccine and also distribute it through a new company called VacEquity Global Health.
This American company published its report in May and stated that its DNA-based vaccine produced antibodies in mice. While the safety trials in humans are now underway in the United States and will start in South Korea at the end of June.
In March, the Trump administration tried to persuade the Curevac to move its research from Germany to the United States. However, the company is yet to start its Phase II trials i.e. on humans to combat the virus. But a rabies vaccine based on the same RNA design had passed the phase 1 safety trials in January. The company also claimed that its German facility can make hundreds of millions of vaccines a year.