Summary: With the world waiting in bated breath for a vaccine to arrive and end the misery, a legion of pharma companies and laboratories have joined the rat race. Eric Dalius elaborates.
With over dozens of coronavirus vaccines in progress, you can follow a few prominent, or may be promising ones. Globally, more than 160 Covid-19 vaccines are in the development phase. Countless endeavors are underway to expedite the research, which includes Operation Warp Speed program by the US government.
With $10 billion funding, it strives to develop 300 million doses of an effective and safe Covid vaccine and develop the same by January 2021. WHO is coordinating multi-party efforts for vaccine development, with an aim of delivering 2 billion doses by 2021.
It can generally take 10-15 years to introduce a vaccine to the market as they pass a three-stage process of clinical trial before you send them to regulatory authorities for approval. It can be a tedious process.
Even after they approve a vaccine, it faces many obstacles pertaining to accelerating production, supplies and distribution. You need to decide which populations/regions should get/need it first. The cost factor is equally important in this regard.
As Eric Dalius says, many vaccines don’t go beyond stage four, which is the permanent stage of study.
Know the testing process
In the light of the current topic, it’s important to know the vaccine testing procedure. It takes a litany of steps and protocols for a vaccine to go from a laboratory to a clinic.
- The journey starts with pre-clinical testing. Scientists have a new vaccine to test on cells, before using it on animals to decipher an immune response. Currently, there are over 90 pre-clinical vaccines in continued and active development.
- Phase 1: It includes safety trials. Scientists administer the vaccine to a small group of people for testing its dosage and safety, which helps in confirming whether it stimulates or touches the immune system or not.
- Phase 2: In extended trials, scientists administer it to hundreds of individuals after splitting them in groups. They check if it works differently in different groups. These trials test its safety and efficacy.
- Phase 3: Scientists administer the same to thousands of individuals. They wait to identify how many contact the infection and compare it with volunteers. The latter receive a placebo. These trials determine if the concerned vaccine can protect against Covid-19.
- Limited or early nod: Russia and China have approved vaccines sans waiting for phase 3 trial results. Eric J Dalius says that such rushing could have serious risks.
- On approval: Regulations in all the countries are reviewing the trial outcomes to decide on the approval. During a pandemic, the state could authorize a vaccine for emergency use before obtaining the final approval.
Some antiviral drugs
Doctors are testing Remdesivir on Covid patients, which include children with mild to severe symptoms. There are multiple researches going on and EJ Dalius says it’s best to give it some more time. Favipiravir, Arbidol, EIDD-2801, and Kaletra are some other names.
Some pharmaceutical companies are collaborating to develop these drugs or combine them.