Monday, August 3, 2020

Why the Rapid Development of a Vaccine for Covid-19 is Happening so Fast

Environmental & Science Education
History of Science
Nature of Science
Edward Hessler

The reasons for the surprisingly rapid progress on a COVID-19 vaccine are reviewed by Andrew Joseph in STAT.

--A familiar family. The coronavirus is quite similar to "others that had previously leapt from animals to people" so rejiggering "vaccine projects" could be done quickly.

--An acute, not chronic infection. This infection is one "most people will clear on their own."

--Cutting-edge approaches. Innovations include determining the genetic sequence of the virus, "basic genetics, immunology and structural biology." By knowing the genetic sequence researchers "can string together the right pieces of (genetic) code to synthesize vaccines." (added)

--Money, money, money. Money has been no object. Usually companies wait for each phase of the trials on whether to make further investments. And one researcher, Dr. James LeDuc of the University of Texas Medical Branch's Galveston Medical Branch also noted that, "The fact that industry is able to hedge their bets like this and to make these investments is because the government has put up the money.”

In related reporting, NPR's Sydney Lupkin listed drug companies that have "agreements for the support of clinical trials, scaling-up of the manufacturing process and producing 100 million doses of vaccine": AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novovax, Pfizer, and Sanofi.

--Regulatory Nimbleness. Since the West African Ebola crisis regulators have been more comfortable moving vaccine trials forward, including the use of collapsing the usual three phases "into Phase 1/2 or Phase 2/3 trials. Recall too that this is a somewhat familiar coronavirus so the trials could be shorter or collapsed.

In his STAT essay Andrew Joseph reminds us though that "progress so far remains just that. The vaccines are now facing their real tests: the monthslong, Phase 3 trials that will demonstrate whether or not they protect people from the virus."

The full essay is worth reading since it includes details and nuances that this brief doesn't.


No comments:

Post a Comment