Posted by : Posted on : 17-May-2020

What is the world doing to create a COVID-19 vaccine?

As we organise our daily lives to work alongside the “new normal” that has been imposed on us by the spate of stringent, but necessary regulations and orders to combat Covid-19, it is all too easy to be saying, “When will this end?”

I don’t have the answer to that question but I do look out daily for any possible breakthroughs in the scientific and medical world that could offer some hope.

I’ll share a couple of them with you today.

Well, it seems the race to find a vaccine for the new coronavirus is well underway.  Governments and researchers are aiming to provide billions of people with immunity in eighteen months or less, which would be unprecedented.

Many governments have warned that daily life cannot return to normal until their populations have built up antibodies to fend off the virus. Some clinical trials are already underway, but vaccine development often takes years. 

Developing a successful vaccine is not enough. Many countries also face the looming challenge of producing quantities necessary to provide immunity to all their citizens, and competition is already emerging over who will have access once a vaccine is ready.

There are more than one hundred vaccines in preclinical development by pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, government agencies, and others. More than seventy of these are being monitored by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Work on trying to find a vaccine is already underway in the United States, China, the United Kingdom and in Germany.  In those four countries clinical trials are pressing ahead.

The WHO and other multilateral institutions such as the World Bank are focused on financing and manufacturing a COVID-19 vaccine for global use, in particular to ensure fair allocation among all countries.

The pharmaceutical industry is also driving much of the push toward a vaccine.

In the United Kingdom, the University of Oxford started human trials for a candidate in late April, with $25 million in funding from the UK government.

In an article I read today in the UK’s Evening Standard newspaper, written by Imogen Braddick, it said the UK Government is to invest 93 million pounds to bring forward the opening of a new vaccine-manufacturing centre to ensure it is ready to begin production if a coronavirus vaccine is found.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC) in Oxfordshire will now open in summer 2021 – 12 months earlier than planned.

The not-for-profit facility, based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxford, will have the capacity to produce enough doses for the entire UK population in as little as six months.

Meanwhile, in a separate article written by Darrell Etherington and published on Yahoo, it said, quote:

Therapeutics company Sorrento has made what it believes could be a breakthrough in potential treatment of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that leads to COVID-19. The company released details of its preclinical research on Friday, announcing that it has found an antibody that provides "100% inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection of healthy cells after four days incubation." The results are from a preclinical study that still has to undergo peer review. It was an in vitro laboratory study (meaning not in an actual human being), but it's still a promising development as the company continues to work on production of an antibody "cocktail" that could provide protection against SARS-CoV-2 even in case of mutations in the virus.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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