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It is tricky to keep up with the news surrounding coronavirus at the moment. We all know we’re waiting for a vaccine to be offered, but keeping an eye on the progress being made by scientific researchers can be confusing. There are currently more than 170 teams of researchers looking for the cure and five promising vaccines in the making. When will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?
When will a coronavirus vaccine be ready?
Vaccines normally take years to be ready, since it’s crucial to spend time testing the vaccine before you produce it at scale.
Due to the enormous threat of this virus and more than a million people dead, scientists are working 24/7 to speed up the process.
According to the World Health Organisation, there are more than 170 candidate vaccines.
While there are rumours that a vaccine could be ready this December, most experts believe the vaccine will be available by mid-2021.
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What phases do vaccines have to go to to get approved?
Once a vaccine has been made, it has to go through the preclinical testing phase.
This is where the vaccine is tested on cells and then animals such as mice or monkeys, and the scientists see if it produces an immune response.
A total of 92 vaccines are in this stage at the moment.
Then, phase one of testing is the safety trials where the vaccine is given to a few people to test how safe it is and to confirm that it stimulates the immune system.
Phase two sees scientists give the vaccine out to hundreds of people to see if the vaccine has a different effect on different groups such as children and the elderly.
This stage also double checks the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
Some vaccine developers have combined phase 1 and 2 to speed up the process.
In phase 3, thousands of people are given the vaccine and some a placebo.
Scientists check how many people become infected from the vaccine compared to the placebo.
This test is key because it really determines if the vaccine protects against the virus.
To get to the approval stage, vaccines need to protect at least 50 percent of the people who take it in phase 3 – although China and Russia have approved vaccines before seeing the results of Phase 3.
This stage also checks for nasty side effects and is able to note if there are any rare ones since the group is so large.
At present, five vaccines have gone through the testing stages and have been approved for limited or early use.
Regulators in countries due to employ this vaccine will review the results and decide whether to approve it.
People who have had the vaccine in early stages continue to be monitored for delayed responses.
Here are the five vaccines that are furthest ahead.
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CanSino Biologics vaccine
A vaccine has been developed by Chinese company CanSino Biologics based on an adenovirus called Ad5.
The vaccine fared well in both phases 1 and 2, proving the vaccine did cause a response in the immune system.
The vaccine was approved for limited use by the Chinese military on June 25.
This is because the vaccine is a “specially needed drug”.
In August, the company started phase 3 in a number of countries including Russia, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.
The Gamaleya Research Institute vaccine
The Ganaleya Research Institute is part of Russia’s Ministry of Health, and its vaccine was approved for early use on August 11.
Trials for their vaccine started in June, and it is made up of two adenoviruses called Ad5 and Ad26.
They initially called the vaccine Gam-Covid-Vac, but have now renamed it Sputnik V.
Sputnik V was approved before phase 3 trials had even started, a decision which has been criticised by experts as risky.
The decision was later taken back, with the regulator saying phase 3 was needed before it could get approval.
A staggering 40,000 volunteers were recruited to try the vaccine from the UAE, Venezuela, and Belarus.
Positive results came back from phases 1 and 2 on September 4, and Russia has agreed to supply the vaccine to a number of countries such as Brazil, Mexico and India.
The Wuhan Institute of Biological Products
We all know Wuhan as the area of China where the virus started, and now researchers in Wuhan are far ahead in creating a virus.
The Wuhan Institute of Biological Products has developed an inactivated vaccine that was tested by Chinese state-owned company Sinopharm.
The phase ½ trials showed positive results but some volunteers developed unpleasant side effects such as fevers.
Phase 3 took place in the UAE in July and in Peru and Morocco in August.
The Chinese Government approved the vaccine after this and allowed hundreds and thousands of people to try the vaccine.
Since September 14, the UAE has been using the vaccine on health care workers as an emergency.
Beijing Institute of Biological Products
Another Sinopharm-tested virus vaccine developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products is coming along nicely.
Phase 3 trials was launched over the summer in the UAE and Argentina, and the Chinese Government allowed the vaccine to be injected into hundreds of thousands of people along with the Wuhan Institute’s vaccine.
Just like the Wuhan Institute’s vaccine, this vaccine was given to health care workers in the UAE.
However, this was criticised because Sinopharm hadn’t yet shared data to prove it was safe and effective.
Another private Chinese company, Sinovac Biotech, has developed a vaccine.
The inactivated vaccine is called CoronaVac and it went into phase ½ trials in June.
Just 743 volunteers were injected at first, but no severe side effects were reported and it was considered effective.
Phase 3 was launched in Brazil a month later, and then in Indonesia and Trukey.
The vaccine then needed to be tested on children, and this trial was registered at phase ½ on September 16.
The vaccine was approved for limited use in July, and Sinovac is preparing to manufacture the vaccine soon.
In fact, they have promised to supply Indonesia with at least 40 million doses by March next year.
Sinovac’s CEO Yin Weidong said last month that the company is aiming to distribute the vaccine across the world in early 2021.
He said: “We are confident that our research of the COVI-19 vaccines can meet the standards of the U.S. and EU countries.”
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