Vaccines are challenging. They take time. We still don’t have one for HIV/AIDS after 40 years. The average time to bring a vaccine to market is 12 years. But for coronavirus, we are seeing estimates of just one year. Why is that? But no harm in being hopeful. But not prudent to think that a vaccine is going to save the day.
This video outlines the challenges of vaccines. The vaccine may not work, it may be unsafe, and if it does work it may be too late to avert economic ruin.
According to the NIH, more than one vaccine will be needed. Developing many vaccines in tandem is the goal. The NIH also emphasizes that no single vaccine or vaccine platform is likely to meet global need, highlighting the need for a coordinated strategic approach to vaccine development.
Twelve to eighteen months for a vaccine is considered a short time to develop a vaccine. They are now thinking in record time, but development will be with limited safety testing.
There are currently over 90 vaccines being developed to prevent COVID-19. Twenty-two of those are experimental DNA or RNA-based vaccines, which provide the most hope for speedy development.
Traditionally, vaccines have functioned by introducing the body to a version of the virus itself that doesn’t cause disease or to an antigen that’s typically a protein on the virus surface. Both prime the immune system and spur it into action should someone encounter the virus. These two approaches provided the world with effective vaccines for polio, measles, hepatitis B, and other diseases.
But each time, researchers have to develop anew the biological machinery — cells and reactor conditions — needed to manufacture the vaccines.
A new approach: DNA and RNA vaccines are a potential avenue for speeding up vaccine development. Instead of delivering the antigen, these vaccines introduce the DNA or RNA sequence that encodes the antigen and it is produced by the body’s cells. (RNA acts as an information-carrying intermediary between DNA and the protein it encodes.)
When a new virus emerges, the idea is that an antigen from it could be quickly sequenced and the genetic code plugged into an already-approved vaccine platform with an existing tried-and-true manufacturing process. That would eliminate the long process of developing a line of cells for producing the vaccine.
No RNA and DNA vaccines have been approved for humans — for any virus. DNA vaccines, which have been in development for two decades, sometimes struggle to cause a strong immune response to a virus. RNA vaccines are a newer approach, and delivering them to the right cells can be a challenge.
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- Number of Vaccine Trials
- Number of Companies in development
- Fastest time to a Vaccine
- Number of Vaccinations required
Most of the vaccines can be categorized into four different categories:
2. Viral vector
3. Nucleic acid
4. Protein-based vaccines