- Sars-Cov-2 is the full name of the virus that we know as Covid-19 or coronavirus.
- Two teams of medical experts, one from Boston and the other from Oxford, are close to starting human safety trials on the Covid-19 vaccine.
- A vaccine is, technically, something that provokes our immune system to create antibodies that will fight the virus.
As coronavirus is spreading fast across the world, there is one question that is troubling everyone: when will the vaccine be ready? A lot of procedures go into making an effective vaccine against Covid-19 because releasing a vaccine that is not adequately tested could be more dangerous than the virus itself.
Modern Biotech And Oxford University Team
Currently, around 40 companies are rushing to produce a vaccine against the Covid-19. Four of those companies already started testing vaccines on animals, and one of them could even begin human trials reasonably soon. Moderna, a biotech company from Boston, is close to beginning tests on how successful the vaccine is.
However, this was not the case in previous challenges that required a quick production of a specific vaccine. It would take us much longer to reach the phase where human testing starts, but the scientist from China made a massive success in sequencing the genetic material of a virus that is spreading Covid-19 in every corner of this planet.
The outbreak started in China, and it does not surprise how their medical experts immediately engaged in deciphering the genetic code of Sars-Cov-2, which is the official full name of this coronavirus. This is a crucial step in finding a vaccine, because the more we know about the genetic structure of this invisible threat, the better we understand how to address the problems that occur once the virus infects a person.
Another team of experts is soon about to start their human trials. A group of researchers at Oxford University, under the supervision of prof. Sarah Gilbert is planning to run tests next month, which is very soon given the circumstances. Although the scope of these first trials on humans is relatively small, if everything goes according to plan, the Oxford University team may start large trials right after.
Why Is This Not Going Faster?!
Why cannot they just step on it, you might ask, as this is a situation of extreme urgency? Well, that could bring us more harm than good, and here is why.
The production of all vaccines, at least when we reach the phase when we want to check how effective the drug is in preventing people from getting sick, is always the same. A small part of the virus must be injected into the immune system of a human being. This dosage is very low, and the virus itself is weakened in numerous ways, but it is still a dangerous pathogen.
This process is crucial because a request is set upon our immune system: if you detect the pathogen, it is time to produce the antibodies. These antibodies, if a vaccine works appropriately, wake up after a person is infected with the ‘’real thing.’’
Another thing that slightly works in our favor, and helps the scientist come up with the proper vaccine, is the fact that this virus shares more than 80% of genetic material with SARS, another virus that was detected in 2003. However, the rest of it that is still yet to be uncovered is a dangerous place of unknown, and methodological approaches in discovering a vaccine against Covid-19 will likely need to be adapted.