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Could the arrival of a Covid-19 vaccine be closer than we think?

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Everyone has been waiting eagerly for a vaccine to emerge and this could be it. There are 2 main vaccines on the horizon, the Pfizer and ChAdOx1 also known as the AstraZeneca vaccines. Scientists have been working around the clock since the beginning of the year and since a cure or treatment is not possible, our only hope is in a vaccine. However, every vaccine has a drawback for example the ChAdOx1 only offers 70% protection and the Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at temperatures of -70° Celsius.

It is a common misconception that work on the Oxford vaccine only began at the beginning of this year but it has in fact been undergoing development for a few years now. After the Ebola crisis, Oxford University began testing for an unknown, made-up vaccine called Disease X so they already had a head start in structuring their experiments. They had been waiting and planning for a disease like a disease X to come to put the vaccine into use. The name ChAdOx1 stands for Chimpanzee Adenovirus Oxford One. Scientists adapted a vaccine to prevent chimpanzee colds and turned it into a big block of vaccines. They only need to be changed slightly to fight different diseases.

There are 3 or 4 phases of vaccine trials and these include:

  1. The vaccine is tested for the first time on humans and is given to healthy volunteers. Side effects and dose amounts are calculated. Doses are only increased if there are little or no side effects.
  2. It is then tested on a larger group of people who are ill. This is to understand better it’s short-term effects.
  3. This phase only applies to vaccines which have passed stage 1 and 2. It normally lasts for about a year and involves several thousand patients.
  4. This phase is not exactly necessary for some medicines but compulsory for others. The vaccine is still researched as it is being used in practice.

The Pfizer vaccine is a vaccine being created by the American corporation Pfizer and the German biotechnology company BioNTech. It is needed in 2 doses about 3 weeks apart. The vaccine offers 95% effectiveness. The only drawback it seems is the temperature it must be stored at, -70°. There is some controversy involved due to the speed it was made with many people arguing that a safe, quality vaccine could not have been made in the time the Pfizer vaccine was made. When news of this vaccine was released, it was hailed as “a great day for science and humanity”.

Most countries have already secured mass amounts of vaccines but the only problem is that many poor countries won’t be able to afford vaccines. While most haven’t some countries have even made taking the vaccine mandatory. Britain has even appointed a vaccine rollout minister to oversee the distribution.

So far, there are;

  • 164 pre-clinical vaccines
  • 21 vaccines in phase 1
  • 16 vaccines in phase 2
  • 10 vaccines in phase 3
  • 1 licensed vaccine
  • 0 distributed vaccines

Now it is only a matter of time before a safe, effective vaccine is developed and released.

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