doctor holding a syringe

The Race for a Cure: Technology and the Quest of a COVID-19 Vaccine

The biggest news of the past year was the outbreak of COVID-19. The pandemic conditions that we are all under now actually started last year. It has come down to the race for a viable coronavirus vaccine, which might be within reach at the end of this year.

The search for a vaccine is tricky. There are different screening procedures that it could undergo, and there are many processes that need to be done before it could be considered a legitimate vaccine. With the pace it’s going, it stands to be the fastest vaccine that’s been approved. The previous holder was a vaccine for mumps in the ‘60s, with four years from the sampling of the virus to approval.

The speed of the vaccine’s approval is crucial to how soon the pandemic can be stopped in its tracks. Here are some important ideas that may help towards its approval.

Advance research on similar diseases

If you’re wondering how the vaccines have managed to be developed quickly, consider this—this isn’t the first pandemic in modern history. There’s the Spanish Flu, and after that, the outbreaks caused by other diseases. There are also similar respiratory illnesses such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

There have been virulent pandemics before. The research from them helped speed up searching for a viable vaccine against the latest one, COVID-19. The techniques have most definitely been taken from earlier efforts.

Available funding and support

Organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have been in the news for the work they’ve done to help speed up the results of vaccine research. The reason why vaccine development slows down is because of the extensive testing done to ensure their efficacy.

With the billions being poured to speed-up testing, it was done at the same time instead of a level-by-level process. This allowed testing phases 1 to 3 to be done parallel to one another instead of being in a sequential process. Hence, the vaccine could be rolled out quickly on the production floor. It was ready to be shipped to the countries and populations that need it terribly.

Here’s what could effectively be the aftermath of faster research and production.

Doses can be reduced

With the amount of money being infused and the technology being used to develop a vaccine, it isn’t too far-fetched to think that inoculation will only require one dose in the future. This is because of research being done to create more effective spike proteins that will require a much smaller amount for future vaccines.

When you look at it, many more vaccines could be produced in a smaller time frame than the current production. A lot could happen in this time frame; more vaccines made means a faster way to save lives using the vaccines.

scientist looking at some test tubes

Vaccine production speeds up

Research can also factor into the faster creation of a vaccine as needed. The resources are all there—the financial support, the recent studies, and the production techniques. Researchers managed to take some studies based on the MERS coronavirus and created a faster way to develop proteins that simulate the virus.

This faster-producing protein can be turned into an antigen faster than previous versions. Many doses could be reproduced in the same way. From a production standpoint, that could also be seen as a faster way of saving the population from the coronavirus.

Vaccine development could get a boost

The COVID-19 pandemic could be a blessing in disguise, depending on how you look at it. From a vaccine development point of view, there is a lot that pharmaceutical companies can learn from it, such as techniques on how faster vaccines can be developed. The technology used for vaccines right now could also benefit other vaccines and their production.

If pandemics will happen in the future—and they will—vaccine technology learned now can be useful. Companies can also make them quicker compared to before because of the current pandemic. They can create vaccines for measles, polio, and other diseases faster, thanks to the COVID-19 situation.

There is a lot that will still need to go into the assurance that the COVID-19 vaccine will work. Researchers will continue to study the situation even as the population begins to be vaccinated against this virus. Everyone needs to do their part to make sure that future pandemics can be handled correctly. It should be minus the confusion, and with more focus, pharmaceutical companies can be proactive on this. Improvements must be made to ensure that pandemics are handled correctly.

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