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Saturday, 27 February 2021

How close are we to a coronavirus vaccine?

Researchers from all over the globe are racing to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is tracking more than 140 candidate vaccines. Normally vaccines take years of testing and development to be produced on a global scale. Due to the current climate of the pandemic, researchers are planning on having one developed within the next 12 to 18 months.

Vaccines must follow higher safety higher standards than other medical products as they are being given to healthy people. Essentially the vaccine mimics the virus or a part of it. Your body then identifies that something is going on and develops antibodies to protect you.

What is the process of testing vaccines?

Researchers give the vaccine to animals in the pre-clinical stage of the testing process to see if it triggered an immune response.

Phase one of clinical testing involves the vaccine being given to a small group of people to determine the safety measures and if it provokes an immune response in humans.

Phase two gives the vaccine to hundreds of people so the researchers can get an idea of the safe level of dosage.

In phase three, the vaccine is now distributed to thousands of individuals to again confirm the safety of it and see if there are any rare side effects some people experience. This stage of the testing process also determines the effectiveness of the vaccine while also having a control group who are given a placebo.

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the University of Melbourne are currently conducting phase three of the clinical trial process. They are testing a tuberculosis vaccine that is almost 100 years old. At the moment it is believed that the old vaccine doesn’t protect specifically against COVID-19 but it evokes an immune response that could make it harder to contract coronavirus.

Nathan Bailey
Nathan Bailey
Nathan is a news reporter, covering a range of national and international news stories, with a focus on explaining worldwide issues. He has been at British Journal since 2019. Before joining British Journal, he worked for Fleet Street newspapers for 5 years, where he spent time as a roving foreign correspondent.

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