COVID-19 | Race against time as countries try to develop vaccines

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With over 2.7 million cases and more than 1.9 lakh deaths the worldover, the unrelenting spread of the COVID-19 continues to pose one of the greatest challenges the world has ever faced. While containing the spread of the virus remains a priority for most countries, it’s a race against time to develop a credible vaccine to combat the virus.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), as many as 83 vaccine experiments are being conducted across the world.

The WHO is carrying out the ‘Solidarity’ clinical trials. This involves conducting clinical trials on four treatment options  across the world where standards of care and protection will be evaluated. The results will be evaluated based on how effective the virus is in terms of slowing the growth or or other clinical parameters.

Many nations including India have signed up for these trials.

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Health experts have warned that this process may take 12-18 months before the vaccines can be approved and produced commercially.

Many nations are conducting different human trials of the vaccine.

Let’s take a closer look at how much of a distance different countries have covered in a bid to develop a vaccine for Covid-19:

1. Britain

The University of Oxford has been provided £20 million by the British government.

University of Oxford

A project team headed by Professor Sarah Gilbert is testing out a vaccine called “ChAdOx1 nCOV-19”. This adenovirus has been modified to include the ‘S’ protein which constitutes a major part of COVID-19.

It is well known that proteins are the building blocks of the cells which are the basic structure of the human body.

This is presently in the stage of field trials and will be tested on 500 humans before being granted the approval for commercial production.

The death toll in the UK has crossed over 18,000.

2. USA

President Donald Trump announced that the US is close to finding a vaccine.

The US Department of Health and Human Service is funding one of the private companies and is paying it USD 483 million.

Moderna INC is developing the mRNA- 1273 vaccine. This involves utilisation of the novel RNA technology to stimulate the human immunity system.

Novel RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) explained simply involves RNA molecules inhibiting and neutralising the targeted mRNA. This will immediately stop cell divisions and multiplications in the human body.

The vaccine is expected to be ready only by end of 2020 or even early 2021.

The US has seen over 45,000 deaths related to the virus.

3. China

Not much is clear about China’s progress in this regard. With various new reports about 6-7 vaccines being tested by the Chinese, nothing can be said about China whose activities are often shrouded in mystery.

However, China was the first nation to test the Plasma Therapy. This treatment involves planting the plasma of a cured patient into that of an infected person. Tests have shown mixed results and experts have warned against interference in the DNA of the cell by foreign bodies.

Experts around the world have refused to believe the number of cases and deaths emanating from China, suspecting foul play.

4. Germany

The private company BioNTech along with Pharma major Pfizer is testing the BNT 162 vaccine.

Not much details are available regarding this vaccine trial as of now.

The state of California in the US too is working on this vaccine.

5. Switzerland

Researchers in Geneva and Basel have sought permission to conduct experiments related to two methods/ drugs.

The first one is related to ‘post-exposure chemoprophylaxis’ which involves containing the spread of the virus in the early stages.

The second experiment is related to a drug that is used to treat the HIV known as lopinavir.

The researchers hope to test it on 400 humans before applying for licence for mass production.

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