Coronavirus – The Race to Find a Vaccine

doctor with syringe

2020 has been a year like no other. From the circulation of rumors in early January of a novel Coronavirus appearing (allegedly) in Wuhan, China to social distancing, travel restrictions and eventual global lockdowns, this year will be long in the memory – unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons. 

As nations around the globe continue to battle the effects of the virus and try to curb its voracious spread, one hope unites us all – that, sometime soon, scientists might find a successful vaccination for COVID-19.

Coronavirus has affected us all

While some doubters and dissenters question the actual dangers of Coronavirus, for so long as governments around the world take the position of trying to prevent the spread of the disease through isolation and lockdowns, we will all face restrictions. 

It is an oft-quoted phrase, but we really are, “all in this together,” and, directly or indirectly, Coronavirus has affected populations the world over. 

It is also highly likely the effects of COVID will be with us long after the virus has passed. From the economic repercussions of essentially shutting down economies to new practices like working from home, the prevalence of contactless payments and the perceived risk of crowded places, COVID has altered society in general. 

Public safety vs economic survival

World leaders currently face the wholly unenviable quandary of trying to find an elusive balancing point between keeping the global economy afloat and protecting public safety. With nations accumulating record levels of debt – and the number of deaths still rising – governments juggle between social and fiscal responsibility. 

Meantime, companies like Teamtech are actively looking to develop powerful antigen tests for Point of Care (POC) testing and diagnosis of COVID to at least hopefully allow us a semblance of normality until a vaccine is found.  

Surely never before in the history of man has there been such a concerted and determined effort in the battle against one common foe. The race is very much on to develop a Coronavirus vaccine. 

The current situation

At present, there are over 170 vaccines currently being tracked by the World Health Organization (WHO), each at varying stages of the development process. Typically, a vaccine can take years of testing before being approved but, in the case of COVID, scientists are hoping to produce a vaccine in just a fraction of the normal time – in as little as 12 to 18 months – meaning we could possibly see the release of a vaccine before the year is out. 

All vaccine production goes through five recognized stages. Note, figures below were correct as of 21st October:

Pre-clinical: The developmental phase of vaccines not used in human trials of any sort. Vaccines are typically administered to animals to check if they trigger an immune response. There are currently 154 vaccines at this stage of development.

Phase one trials: Vaccines are tested in small-scale safety trials to test for any immune response and evaluate safety. Currently, there are 35 vaccines at this stage.

Phase two trials: Testing on a larger-scale (typically hundreds of people) to check safety and also assess required dosage amounts. There are 16 vaccines at this stage.

Phase three trials: Mass-scale testing on thousands of people – including placebo testing. Scientists evaluate the efficacy and possible safety concerns, as well as side effects. Eleven vaccines are at this point already. 

Approval: One might consider this stage the Holy Grail of testing. A vaccine is approved and deemed safe for distribution to the population. There are currently no vaccines at this stage – yet.

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