Promising Study Shows a Potential COVID-19 Vaccine

This article was originally published on July 18, 2020.

COVID-19, a respiratory virus originating from Wuhan, China, has become a pandemic and has affected almost the entire world over the last few months, with around 14 million cases globally. With the cases increasing so rapidly, scientists are working hard to develop a vaccine, a product that creates immunity from an illness, that helps the body develop immunity, the ability of the body to fight illness and resist pathogens, against this disease.

Currently, many major companies are trying to find a vaccine for the virus. Recently, a Phase 2 trial conducted by Moderna found that the virus was neutralized after the second dose. 45 people took part in the trial, and there are expected to be 30,000 more people to join after. However, unlike the flu vaccine, it is not a live vaccine, meaning that it has mRNA. Along with the vaccine used by Moderna during the Phase 2 trial, there are currently 23 vaccines that are being used in human trials to study their effectiveness. Countries such as Russia, U.K, India, and more are working on discovering a vaccine.

How does a vaccine get made? There are 6 stages in the development of a vaccine according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: exploratory, preclinical, clinical development, regulatory review and approval, manufacturing and quality control. The first stage is exploratory, which focuses on identifying “natural or synthetic antigens that might help prevent or treat a disease.” This is a research-based stage that involves learning more about the virus and its chemical composition. The second stage is the preclinical stage, which involves testing the vaccines on tissues, cells, and animals to make sure the vaccine is not harmful or dangerous. The next stage is clinical development. During the clinical development of a vaccine, a sponsor submits an application to the Food and Drug Administration.

Once it is approved, the vaccine goes on to the next stages, Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3. Phase 1 administers the vaccine to a group of people less than 100 to determine if the vaccine is safe for the general population. The second phase, Phase 2, involves hundreds of people and collects information about the dose size and immunization schedule. Phase 3 can include tens of thousands of people and continues to evaluate the effectiveness of the vaccine, along with the rare side effects that may not be present in small groups. If the vaccine passes all three phases, the developer submits a Biologics License Application to the FDA, called the regulatory review and approval process.

Vaccines have historically proven to be extremely effective. One example of this is the smallpox vaccination. Smallpox is one of the only diseases to be officially eradicated, and this is due to the smallpox vaccine. Another example is the flu shot. Although it doesn’t completely stop the flu, it prevents people from getting exposed to the harsher symptoms of the illness. COVID-19 vaccine may not necessarily be able to completely stop the virus, but it could help save thousands of lives, if not more.

While it seems like scientists are not doing as much as they can due to how long it seems to be taking to receive a vaccine for the deadly virus, scientists actually have been shown to work at record-breaking speeds to formulate the vaccine for COVID-19. In the past, it has taken years to simply approve a vaccine, but now scientists are working their hardest to save lives. While it may take a while for the vaccine to come out, it could potentially help people who are suffering from the virus.