How close are we to a vaccine?

More than 140 groups of researchers tracked by the World Health Organization (WHO) are competing to develop a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine. Vaccines ordinarily need years of repeated testing and additional time to produce at scale, but scientists are hoping to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 within the next 12 to 18 months.

Vaccines mimic the virus – or part of the virus – they protect against, stimulating the immune system to develop antibodies. They must follow higher safety standards than other drugs because they are given to millions of healthy people.

How are vaccines tested?

  • In the pre-clinical stage of testing, researchers give the vaccine to animals to see if it triggers an immune response.
  • In phase 1 of clinical testing, the vaccine is given to a small group of people to determine whether it is safe and to learn more about the immune response it provokes.
  • In phase 2, the vaccine is given to hundreds of people so scientists can learn more about its safety and correct dosage.
  • In phase 3, the vaccine is given to thousands of people to confirm its safety – including rare side effects – and effectiveness. These trials involve a control group which is given a placebo.

Now that we know what it takes to develop a vaccine, let’s focus on the advances

A COVID-19 vaccine developed by the biotechnology company Moderna in partnership with the National Institutes of Health has been found to induce immune responses in all of the volunteers who received it in a Phase 1 study.

These early results published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the vaccine worked to trigger an immune response with mild side effects — fatigue, chills, headache, muscle pain, pain at the injection site — becoming the first US vaccine candidate to publish results in a peer-reviewed medical journal. The vaccine is expected to begin later this month a large Phase 3 trial — the final trial stage before regulators consider whether to make the vaccine available.

Moderna noted in a press release on Tuesday that, if all goes well in future studies, "the Company remains on track to be able to deliver approximately 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, beginning in 2021". With this breakthrough in the health world, many countries are forming a group to prepare themselves when the vaccine is ready and with it help other countries.

The present scenario

As of now, 15 July 2020, 75 countries have submitted expressions of interest to protect their populations and those of other nations through joining the COVAX Facility, a mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair, and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.

The COVAX Facility, and the AMC within it, is designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for every country in the world, rich and poor, to make rapid progress towards slowing the pandemic.

As different governments work closely to develop an effective and safe vaccine, at We Shield we continue to work hard to create a safe and clean environment for our front line workers and individuals at most risk of contracting COVID-19 by sourcing and distributing top-quality personal protective equipment and safety supplies at the best pricing on the market.