The Coronavirus has been one of the biggest globe issues we’ve had to face in the 21st century. While there have been so many negatives to come out of the pandemic, the vaccine rollout has started only a year after the discovery of the virus.
You may remember the Ebola outbreak in West Africa back in 2014, while this was an international public health emergency it’s spread wasn’t as big as the Coronavirus. In comparison the Ebola vaccine took 5 years to go from initial phases to being approved, which is at least 5 years faster than a normal vaccine development which usually takes anywhere between 10 to 15 years to get approved for safe use.
Now looking at the Coronavirus, on a global scale we have been able to develop and approve multiple protective vaccines in 1 year. While this may not sound impressive to the general population, experts are amazed by this achievement. This may get you thinking, how have they then been able to it so fast? Is it safe?
Let’s go through a few points that will explain how this achievement was reached.
Vaccine development and application is a complex process and, in the past, has taken up to 10-15 years from start to finish. During the COVID-19 pandemic we didn’t have the luxury of time, so the need for a fast-tracked vaccine was high. The only way this was going to happen was through global collaboration and cooperation. Without the sharing of knowledge and research the whole vaccine development would have taken considerably longer, and we would yet to see any rollout even throughout the following year.
Adding to this, even with the fast-tracked development of the vaccine, it still needs to be produced at extremely large scale and distributed all across the global. This itself required massive amounts of international collaboration. Cold Jet Dry Ice Sydney has stated that a great example of this cooperation is through the development of the vaccine transportation boxes. The vaccines that were developed require storage at extremely low temperatures (-70 degrees Celsius), so required rapid development of a transport solution that could maintain these temperatures. Through collaboration a dry ice box was developed that was cold enough to ship large quantities of the vaccines from the countries producing them to the countries in need.
Coronavirus is the term is used to define a group or strain of common viruses. In fact, there are actually hundreds of different coronaviruses, some coronaviruses have caused SARS, MERS and a few even cause the common cold. This means it’s not the first-time science has come across the virus; some experts have been studying coronaviruses for over 50 years. This meant that scientists didn’t start from scratch when developing these new vaccines.
Additionally, vaccine technologies are constantly being developed in preparation for a pandemic. They work as foundations that can be adapted to emerging viruses, to fast track the vaccine development process. So, scientists had a number of studies and previous work that helped them to develop these vaccines.
Developing and producing a vaccine is not a cheap process. Pre-COVID vaccines would cost millions of dollars, some estimations put cost over $70 million USD. This itself is a large cost, but when you take the COVID-19 pandemic into the equation and the need for a fast-tracked vaccine the costs increased dramatically. The only way we could achieve this was through massive amounts of funding from all over the world.
With funding from governments and the private sector all across the global, there has been billions of dollars put into funding the development and production of multiple vaccines that have started to be rolled out. Without this level of funding, the vaccines that have been development would either have never been developed or they would still be in the research or trial phases still waiting for further progress to be produced and used safely.
Vaccines usually take so long to develop because they have an intensive testing process in place. This testing has time restraints between different phases or testing trials, which takes up a large portion of the development timeline. The process is long and tedious but is in place to ensure safety.
The COVID-19 vaccine has gone through all the same processes, however, where it differs is when it came to clinical trials. Clinical trials were a priority for the COVID-19 vaccine, so there was less timing waiting around between trials. The processes between that require approvals or grants were also fast-tracked through the system to ensure the bureaucracy didn’t slow the development down.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a massive change in vaccine research and development. While we didn’t start from scratch, global collaboration and funding help push the process to its limits to put out a number of vaccines and a pace unheard of in the scientific and health community. Yet it was such a success and as the rollout continues across the globe, life is starting to return to normal.