As the world continues to fight against the coronavirus, many are wondering how long it will be before a vaccine will be available to the public. Thanks to stay at home measures being put into place and people ordered to wear masks when out in public, there has been a decrease in the number of cases seen worldwide. With people being discharged from hospitals and the recovery rate increasing, many are eager to get a vaccine in the hands of the public.
Like many other healthcare officials, Dr. Fauci, had estimated the timeline for a vaccine could be anywhere from 12 to 18 months. Currently there are approximately over 200 therapies and close to 100 vaccines being tested to fight the coronavirus. With companies joining forces and working around the clock, it is a race to the finish line as the sense of urgency can be felt all over.
Before a vaccine is released to the public, it must go through proper storage and handling from the time they are created all the way up to when they are released to the public. Vaccines will go through what is called a “cold chain” which describes how the vaccine is stored as it moves through different phases from the manufacturing process to the transportation to facilities all the way up to vaccine administration. If a vaccine is exposed in anyway shape or form such as change in temperature, the potency of the vaccine is put in jeopardy and cannot be repaired, halting the distribution of the vaccine.
Once a vaccine has gone through pre-clinical testing to confirm its safety, this leads to the beginning of clinical trials. The trials will start with a small group of people, eventually increasing the number of people being tested as it continues through each of the phases. With companies racing to get vaccines into trials, many health officials worry about what could happen if the vaccine is release too quickly. One worry is the possibility of the vaccine making it easier to catch the coronavirus or if the vaccine makes the disease worse after someone is infected. This unfortunate result has been seen before in H.I.V drugs and vaccines for dengue fever, with a person’s body reacting unexpectedly to the vaccine, making the disease more dangerous than before.
Of course, there has been great debate on who should receive the vaccine first once it has hit the market. Some say it may depend on which country has created the vaccine first, with that country’s population being completely vaccinated, before the rest of the world has an opportunity to get its hands on the vaccine. Others may naturally say healthcare workers should get the vaccine first as the are the frontline workers, coming close into contact on a day to day basis. Harvard’s health professor, Barry Bloom, feels essential workers such as grocery store employees should receive it first as they are the ones who are not only keeping the economy going but also food chain going as well.
Now while we are far from a vaccine reaching the market, it is clear the whole world is anxious to get one approved. However, we all must remember good things come to those who wait. We cannot forget the progress that has been seen so far. Between the decrease in deaths and hospitalizations, to the increase of recoveries, it is clear we are on the right path to fight this coronavirus and will not stop it has been defeated once and for all!