Coronavirus vaccination in development: when should it be expected?
Several groups of researchers are currently working on a coronavirus vaccination. However, science cannot guarantee that this will be completed before the end of the current outbreak. There may already be an experimental vaccine ready for first tests in just a month. However, experts warn that this accelerated schedule does not always allow a careful assessment of the safety and effectiveness of the protective substances.
Coronavirus vaccination against time
Since 2003, the world has faced three outbreaks of corona viruses. These are severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), middle eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the current outbreak of the novel virus called 2019-nCoV. So scientists still have to find a way to stop these outbreaks before they start. The time to develop a vaccine after the outbreaks has drastically shortened in the past 17 years.
This is primarily due to technological advances and the increased engagement of governments and nonprofits to fund research into emerging infectious diseases. Scientists are already working on the development of a vaccine against the novel China virus. This would be an achievement that, according to experts, is technically possible. But she may not come in time to help with this outbreak.
Once scientists have created potential candidates, the vaccines still need to go through animal testing and clinical trials on humans. These steps are necessary to ensure that the vaccines work and are safe. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine said that the only way to speed up animal testing and clinical studies.
“In the end, these steps take time. So that will be the step that limits the rate to determine if a vaccine will be available in time for this epidemic. ”
Hotez said there are some things you can do to make this test a little faster, like running some clinical trials in parallel. According to him, however, it would still be weeks or months.
“Since we cannot predict how an outbreak will turn out, it is always important to identify the potential for vaccine development. If vaccines work, they usually have to be excellent. In many cases, they are the best way to prevent illness. “
Even if a vaccine goes through all rounds of testing, it is unlikely that drug manufacturers will be able to produce enough vaccine. “Given that we've had three outbreaks of coronaviruses since 2003, it's clear that these beta versions are becoming a fairly regular phenomenon,” said Hotez.
Some experts therefore believe that it makes sense to develop a universal coronavirus vaccination. This should work against all viruses in this family, including those that we do not yet know. Different types of coronavirus share some of the same traits, so theoretically a universal vaccine could be developed. However, a universal vaccine is not the only option to protect us from future outbreaks.
“We may need to build an infrastructure for these types of viruses that is more or less what we currently have for the flu,” said Hotez.
With the flu, scientists continuously monitor which virus strains are active all over the world. They then predict which ones will be active during the upcoming flu season and use them to develop the annual flu vaccine. Corona viruses are slightly different, but Hotez believes that scientists could develop several variants in the event of an outbreak.
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