How close are scientists to finding a Covid-19 vaccine?

CAPE TOWN- In order for scientists and researchers to find a Covid-19 vaccine, six crucial steps must be taken – but how close are scientists to finding a vaccine?

Reports from around the world suggest that many potential coronavirus vaccines are in development, however it could still take an estimated 12-18 months to create a vaccine. More than 100 potential Covid-19 vaccines are in various stages of development. 

Vaccines work by exposing the body and immune system to parts of a virus so it can safely develop an immune response and learn how to protect your body against that germ. 

According to an article found in The Conversation, there are 6 steps that go into the development of a new vaccine.

  1. Scientists need to have a basic understanding of the virus. This step was achieved early in the outbreak as Chinese scientists were able to find and publish the genetic sequence of novel coronavirus in January.
  2. Vaccine candidates. Scientists have already been able to isolate the live Covid-19 virus. Last month a team of scientists in the Western Cape isolated a pure live culture. This step involves isolating the virus before weakening it and then determining whether the modified virus, also known as a vaccine candidate, could produce immunity in people. 
  3. Test the vaccine in pre-clinical trials. Initial safety testing is usually carried out in animals to determine how humans might respond to it. Researchers have completed this step and are adapting the vaccine to make it more effective. 
  4. Clinical trials and testing in humans. Earlier this month Johnson & Johnson said human trials will begin sooner than initially planned. Rather than scheduled tests to take place in September, the first phases of human trials are expected to begin at the end of July.
  5. Get regulatory approval. Regulatory bodies need to approve the vaccine and examine the trial results. If regulators have approved similar products before, approval can be accelerated.
  6. Production of the Covid-19 vaccine. As soon as a vaccine has passed safety tests it can be produced at a small scale and used in clinical trials. However, significant manufacturing capacity, such as infrastructure, personnel and equipment, will be needed to produce large quantities of a vaccine for use.

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