As coronavirus-positive cases worldwide inch towards the 2 million mark, a general sense of panic prevails. Currently, it is the wait and hope for a timely vaccine that looks like the only way out of this pandemic. And as we keep waking up to distressing coronavirus news every day, here’s a positive update for a welcome change: a COVID-19 vaccine might arrive in the market sooner than anticipated.
With drug makers brainstorming on a cure for the novel virus globally, there happen to be a total of 70 vaccines that are already in the development stage across the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently released a tally of these vaccines and how far along they are in the process.
A vaccine that’s being developed by Hong Kong-listed company CanSino Biologics Inc.in collaboration with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology seems to be the farthest along in the process. The vaccine is already in phase 2 of trials. Two vaccines developed by United States-based drug makers Moderna Inc. and Inovio Pharmaceuticals separately are in phase 1 of the trials.
According to a media report, Moderna’s vaccine uses genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA), that has been produced in a lab by the drugmaker. The mRNA is a genetic code that instructs the body's cellular mechanisms to make proteins that look similar to the coronavirus proteins. This is how the vaccine can help you form an immune response against the virus. Invio’s vaccine works on a different mechanism by injecting specially designed plasmas that instruct the host’s body to create antibodies and thus ward off the infection.
While we might all be getting a little anxious with the increasing number of infections and no announcements of any cure to date, media reports suggest that progress is actually happening at an unprecedented speed when it comes to developing vaccines. The drug industry is doing its best to compress the time it takes in developing a vaccine and then putting it up for sale. To cut it short, experts are diligently trying to compress 10 to 15 years-long progress within the span of a year.
In fact, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, Sarah Gilbert shared in a recent media report that the vaccine might make it to market by September this year. She further shared that the clinical trials for the vaccine would start at the university “quite soon” and expressed the need for setting the production process in motion so as to make them available as soon as possible.
“We need to start manufacturing large amounts of the vaccine. It is not uncommon for companies to start manufacturing a new vaccine before they really know for certain it works”, she said in an interaction with BBC radio.
She added, “No-one wants to be in a position where you have a vaccine which you have shown does work and then not have any of the vaccines to use. The sooner we start the quicker we’re going to get to the billion dose scale. That probably won’t be this year but if we don’t start we’re not going to get there next year either.”
Rest assured, with all our hopes invested in drugmakers and scientists across the world, it has been effectively proved that it is the medical facilities and studies that require way more investment than what's made on weapons and war preparations across the world. May we all remember this even after we have a vaccine and all this becomes a thing of the past.