The process of developing a vaccine is a long one and something ready to be used by the public requires further scrutiny. Since the spread of the novel coronavirus vaccine, called COVID-19, started in Wuhan province of China, medical authorities across the world have been baffled by it. The scientists and medical professionals from China were the first ones to perform autopsies on victims and tell the world about the virus.
COVID-19 is Different while the Vaccine Making Process Remains the Same
If it is a vaccine that has to be used on the public, it has to go through several processes, both medical and legal, before it can be mass-produced and used.
- Vaccines are harmless partially dead virus strains injected into the body to allow it time to develop antibodies.
- They harmlessly expose the body’s immune system to a foreign virus or bacteria and the immune system recognizes it and learns to resist it.
- So when the virus attacks in full form, the immune system already knows what to do and it wins.
So, it is natural that the cure for the COVID-19 lies in the virus itself, and patients that have recovered have the antibodies already to defeat it. Once, the vaccine is formed, it is given to healthy people, children and old people to combat it.
Steps in Making a Coronavirus-Vaccine
- Every vaccine has to pass regulatory requirements. There has to be a laboratory testing and development phase, called the ‘In Vitro’ testing. These are test-tube experiments and then it goes ‘In Vivo’ where they are tested on animals, often mice or a chimp that’s biological processes are closest to humans.
- Once the vaccine has been put through rigorous tests, its side-effects are tested, they move towards an initial trial on a small number of humans. In COVID-19, we had a lot of patients, hence this was fairly easy. This is to make sure that the vaccine has no major concern regarding safety, in the immediate future or over the long-term such as a few weeks.
- Then to establish that the vaccine is working consistently the trial run is made on several groups in hundreds or even more to learn the effects. A small sample of a few humans is not enough. Now, this group size is increased in a controlled manner, monitoring all health issues, side effects, and consistent performance before giving its findings to the regulatory authorities.
Progress So Far
As it is a new disease and it is spreading very fast the testing and trial runs are easy and yet difficult to perform, especially to monitor the performance over weeks. It cannot be hastened as it can have negative impacts as well. So far, the COVID-19 vaccine hasn’t been developed or any medication is not known to work except for a study by scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle.
In a first-stage study, funded by the NIH, Maryland, USA (National Institutes of Health) a vaccine without the virus is being tested. Though results aren’t clear, even if it did, it couldn’t be ready for another year.