iSavta | 27.04.2020
Have scientists already created the long-awaited vaccine for COVID-19? If yes, why haven’t they released it yet? Why does it take so long before the agony and difficulty of the whole world due to the virus end? These are just some of our questions that are seeking for answers.
Health officials however have earlier advised that the vaccine everybody is waiting for won’t be available for 1 year to 1.5 years, which means a rapid end to this pandemic is not yet on sight.
No need to panic, yes, there are already vaccine candidates both in China and in the United States.
However, Dr. Greg Poland of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine research group, has explained that although everybody wants to speed up the process of producing a vaccine, it is very crucial to slow down and be sure first that whatever would be distributed to the public is not only effective, but most importantly, safe for the consumers.
The process to have a vaccine has always been designed in a way that it is slow, deliberative, reviewed by other experts, well thought of, and evidenced-based, so there are no mistakes, says Dr. Poland. The process of creating a vaccine is divided into three: develop, test and have it licensed. If the vaccine is created too fast, it might not be very effective, or worse, it could lead to some future health problems. These are some of the things that needs to be considered before releasing just any vaccine.
Usually, it takes 10-15 years before a vaccine is out on the market (of course we are hoping it won’t be that long.) The University of Maryland's Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health has said that there are 3 Phases in vaccine trials: Phase I trials usually last for about 6 months - this is the time when they test for its safety. Phase II trials usually last for a year - this is the time when immune system response of volunteers is examined. Phase III even lasts longer. It usually takes around 3 years or more. This is the time when the vaccine is being tested if it is effective in preventing infection to those who get exposed to the disease-causing agent.
The United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the biotech company Moderna have developed a vaccine candidate at a very fast rate and the vaccine candidate is now on clinical trials.
What they did was to combine the virus' genetic code with existing processes to create the vaccine candidate, said Dr. Kathleen Neuzil of the University of Maryland's Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health.
The vaccine candidate was able to be brought to trial quickly because it was modeled on other vaccines for influenza and Zika. They used the same process and technology and only substituted the genetic code with that of SARS-COV2 virus, according to Dr. Neuzil.
Another good news is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has indicated willingness to speed up the regulatory process to check for the vaccine candidate’s safety and effectiveness.
Dr. Neuzil knows the importance of having a vaccine as soon as possible, especially that there are already more than two million people infected worldwide. It’s no joke.
On the other hand, Dr. Poland of Mayo clinic, is still more conservative, especially because the virus can mutate. Effectiveness of the vaccine can might only be limited, says Dr. Poland. He believes that if a vaccine has been rushed too fast, and side effects happen to the receivers of the vaccine, the public will be skeptical of vaccines for decades.
His point is very considerable, noting that one time, a vaccine for dengue fever also had been controversial, and yes, many people have become skeptical of vaccines ever since.
Many great minds continue to look for vaccine candidates, and there are now as many as 40. This is a good thing because experts can now compare the tests results and can decide which one is best.
Knowing that vaccines candidates have already been created, gives us more confidence that we will be able to beat the virus. However, because of the lengthy process, we need to expect that the vaccine would probably come after a long period of time too. Well, as the saying goes “Safety First.” We hope everybody will be okay while waiting for the release of a safe and effective vaccine.