While the world grapples with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, search for a vaccine in on. There have been many discussions and debates on a potential cure, however, almost all stakeholders seem to agree that the coronavirus vaccine could take at least around 6-9 months. Efforts are being made globally for ways to overcome the disease.
Top American immunologist and physician Dr Anthony Fauci also said that it could take a year to 18 months for a vaccine to develop. England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said that the chances of creating a highly effective vaccine or treatment for corona within the next year is “incredibly small”.
To begin with, world leaders, organisations and banks pledged $8 billion towards research for a vaccine against coronavirus. However, the donors still feel that this is only the start of an effort that needs to be sustained over time. The funds were pledged during a video-conference summit hosted by European Union. The United States decided not to be part of the event. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the fund would help in looking for a vaccine, new treatments and better tests for COVID-19.
There are multiple research and development works happening at breakneck speed across the globe.
The Israel Defence Ministry said in a statement that the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) completed the development phase of coronavirus antibody or passive vaccine. The antibody attacks the virus and neutralises it in the body, reported The Jerusalem Post. They are looking to get a patent for the antibody to further develop it for commercial purposes.
Another Israeli research team, MigVax said that it is completing the first phase for a COVID-19 vaccine. MigVax, additionally, secured a $12 million investment to accelerate the clinical trials.
Meanwhile, researchers at two Harvard-affiliated hospitals are adapting a proven form of gene therapy to develop a corona vaccine. They expect to test this by the end of the year. The tests allow a harmless virus to act as a carrier to bring DNA into the patient’s cells. The DNA would then instruct the cells to make a coronavirus protein that would stimulate the immune system to ward off future infections.
Australian scientists have started injecting ferrets with potential vaccine candidates. They expect to start human trials soon. In Seattle, however, the first human trial for a vaccine has been announced. In Oxford too the first human trial in Europe started with 800 recruits.
China, where the disease originated, has approved its third vaccine candidate for clinical trials. One of the vaccine candidates is developed by Chinese military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for clinical trials. An “inactivated” vaccine developed by Wuhan Institute of Biological Products under the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) started its clinical trials, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Billionaire Bill Gates’ foundation is focussing its resources on fighting COVID-19.”Humankind has never had a more urgent task than creating broad immunity for coronavirus. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible,” he said in a blog post. He said that the world needs around 14 billion doses and it could take anything between nine months to two years for a vaccine to develop.
Closer home, the government has set up a Vaccine Task Force for research on a cure for coronavirus. The task force has asked ICMR-approved research institutions to use samples for R&D and to inform the task force.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO DEVELOP CORONA VACCINE?
Usually, a vaccine takes years to develop. However, researchers are optimistic that a vaccine for corona can be developed in only a few months.
An oft-quoted time frame is about 12-18 months, while some researchers have said it could take as less as six months too. Some researchers are aiming to find a vaccine by the end of 2020. However, mid-2021 is when a vaccine seems most likely to materialise.
It must be kept in mind that there are other coronaviruses in the human body already.They cause common cold symptoms but there is no vaccine for them as yet.