UK is the first country within the world to start a mass vaccination program against Covid-19 Vaccine. But how did we get a vaccine so quickly? and is it actually safe the speed at which vaccines have been developed has been hailed as a massive success for science. British experts playing a leading role most Covid-19 Vaccine take years to design test and manufacture. But with coronavirus, it’s only taken a few months for several pharmaceutical companies to come out with a range of potential vaccines for Covid-19 Vaccine.
The breakneck speed has inevitably led some people to ask where the corners have been cut, let’s look at how vaccines are actually made first scientists have to understand the illness that the vaccines are trying to prevent scientists.
Then need to trick the immune system into producing a type of protein called antibodies which fight the disease without making the personnel. Then once we think we have a vaccine then testing begins using ever larger groups of people to test whether the vaccine is stimulating an immune response.
If there are any side effects the spotlight is now on the national regulators it’s up to them to check all the data to see. If it’s safe and effective then once the vaccine’s approved factories can fire up and start producing batches ready to protect people.
The story of the coronavirus vaccine is that almost every stage in this process has become much quicker than normal. So let’s take a look at that in detail circovid19 is a new illness to humans. but it wasn’t completely unknown to scientists in fact similar coronaviruses have jumped from animals to humans in the past like the sars and mers epidemics in 2003 and 2012.
People who plan for disasters have been predicting for years that another illness could jump the species barrier and spread quickly around our ever more connected world and cause a global crisis so experts already knew a lot about coronaviruses and could predict how this one might work coronavirus particles are shaped like a tiny bowl with sharp bits basically sticking out all around we call these spike proteins and they attach to sites in human cells called receptors once the coronavirus molecule is anchored onto the cell it can begin to infect it using it to reproduce and spreading around the host’s body swalkovit19 created a perfect storm of mass.
Chinese scientists had published the genetic code for covid19. It just took weeks for others to use mRna to come up with a vaccine based on genetic sequencing. As we said normally human trials go through three phases.
The first phase might just start with a handful of volunteers who are then given the vaccine. Then monitored to check for immune response and any side effects in phase two hundred or thousands of people might be asked to take the drug. So we can see how well it works in different groups. but with Covid-19 Vaccines most of the developers did combined trials compressing two phases into one bigger trial.
So delays between trials were cut to a minimum by the scientists the drug companies. The regulators all insist that the normal safety procedures were followed in September.
The oxford trial was paused briefly because one of the volunteers became seriously ill. The trial was then allowed to continue after the UK regulator was satisfied. That it wasn’t the vaccine that caused the illness with this pandemic. There’s been a big change with how the regulators work too they used to wait for vaccine trials to finish before they looked at the data.
But here regulators have been involved right from the start given access to data throughout and doing what they call rolling reviews this should mean we haven’t seen big delays. While we wait for the regulators to make their mind up about the vaccine. Finally, some of the drug companies appear to have bet the house on their prototype vaccine working.
They say they’ve already prepared for massive production runs assuming. That the state regulators give sign off AstraZeneca the phone partnering with oxford university claims it’ll be able to quickly manufacture distribute 3 billion doses of the vaccine. If it’s approved for mass use scaling up like this before the vaccine’s actually been approved is a massive gamble for these pharmaceutical companies involved we wouldn’t be looking at mass rollout so quickly.
if governments drug companies and scientists hadn’t been working together from the start to expand capacity. Next there’s the logistics it really helps that governments drug companies and these international vaccine alliances have been quick to make the money available.
When vaccines look promising the British government alone provided 84 million pounds for two British vaccine projects in May and has made large contributions to international vaccine collaborations. The US department of health and human services has also invested billions into the development and manufacturing of vaccines. This means researchers haven’t had to waste time writing applications for funding.
Then waiting for it to be approved plus there’s been no shortage of volunteers either tens of thousands of people around the world quickly signed up to take part in each trial. However, in some trials, there are question marks over whether enough people from vulnerable groups like the elderly have taken part and even in a large clinical trial the number of actual infections is often surprisingly small with the fisa vaccine.
There are only 170 culvert cases amongst nearly 44 000 people taking part in the trial less than one percent and data from those 170 cases are judged to be sufficient for the UK regulator to allow the vaccine to be used on millions of people.
All in all, there’s been a perfect storm of factors coming together to enable us to have a vaccine at record speed. Then scientists and regulators adapted their ways of working so that they could compress what normally takes years into months.
But experts are also clear that you can never entirely rule out the possibility of side effects from a vaccine no matter what. How many people are tested it is possible that there’ll be very rare reactions when it’s used in the general population.
There’s a monitoring system in place to carry on checking for safety after the rollout there’s just no way that you can make a clinical trial big enough to spot say a one in a million reaction to the vaccine.
But if the side effects are as rare as that then both doctors and scientists are clear that the potential benefits of saving thousands or tens of thousands of people far outweigh the risks you.
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