How close are we to a Covid-19 vaccine?


As Covid-19 quickly spread around the world, there has been a mad rush to find a vaccine.

On January 10, China shared the genetic sequence of the new coronavirus. The rapid genetic sequencing and the open publication of the virus by Chinese scientists has been a boon for researchers who have worked against the clock to produce a jab, a pill or a preventive potion.

Although the race to find a vaccine is well underway, doctors are currently placing their hopes on drugs already used to treat other diseases that they are redirecting for patients with coronavirus.

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A vaccine for global use should not be ready before the start of next year at the earliest.

Once the vaccine is ready for use, it will likely be assigned to what public health experts call “key populations” first – health workers, vulnerable groups, and contacts of affected patients – before any program national mass vaccination.

In addition to developing vaccines, doctors are testing existing drugs against viruses such as Ebola, malaria and HIV. Initial results look promising, but until full clinical trials are completed, doctors cannot be sure that the drugs are working.

How long does a vaccine take?

A crucial breakthrough in facilitating vaccine research is the development of an organization called the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), created in response to the lack of scientific progress when Ebola ravaged West Africa from 2014 to 2016.

CEPI’s mission is to respond quickly to epidemics by providing researchers with money to develop vaccines.

CEPI is already developing at least eight potential vaccines for Covid-19 and announced in January that a vaccine for Covid-19 would be ready for testing by the end of May.

Researchers are confident they will have at least one vaccine ready within 18 months. It would be the quickest time that humans moved from seeing a whole new pathogen developing a vaccine against it.

Who is working on a coronavirus vaccine?

British scientists are competing with dozens of laboratories around the world to be the first to develop a drug. In mid-March, scientists from Public Health England said that trials of a vaccine could start within the next month.

In mid-January, a team from Imperial College London started developing a vaccine and is working at a record pace. It only took 14 days to go from genetic sequencing of the virus to generation of the laboratory test vaccine.

In America, the U.S. government has pledged to reach a billion dollar (800 million pound) Covid-19 vaccine deal with titan Johnson & Johnson, co-funding research through Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (Barda).

Human trials of the vaccine have already started in the United States, breaking records for the speed at which these trials can take off. Healthy volunteers in America are receiving the next generation “genetic hack” after bypassing standard animal testing in a very expedited process.

Why does it take so long to create a vaccine?

The biggest obstacle to vaccine development is large-scale manufacturing and distribution – it is estimated that CEPI needs at least an additional $ 2 billion in funding. The UK has already committed £ 250 million in aid to CEPI, the largest donation of any country.

Hindering scientists’ attempts to develop a vaccine, Covid-19 has also mutated into two strains, one that appears to be much more aggressive.

And health experts have warned that the virus could hit Britain in “multiple waves,” raising fears that some vaccines won’t work on mutated strains.


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