SCIENTISTS all over the world have been scrambling to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus for months.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) now claims it is tracking more than 140 candidate vaccines.
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So far in the UK more than 44,000 people have died from the virus and globally over 570,000 people have lost their lives.
At present the virus is being treated with trial drugs such as anti-viral drug Remdesivir, which has been shown to decrease hospital stays, and most Covid-19 patients are also being given steroids to deal with the inflammation.
But as of yet, a single vaccine has not yet been produced.
In normal times vaccines would take years to develop, going through stringent testing measures which usually take months and years per round.
Scientists working on a vaccine for Covid-19 don’t have this luxury and are working to develop a vaccine within 12-18 months.
The role of a vaccine is to mimic the virus and help the immune system develop antibodies against it.
There are four stages of vaccine development and these are in place to ensure that vaccines are safe for a variety of people.
The first stage is the pre-clinical stage. This is usually done on animals such as mice and they are given the vaccine to see if it triggers an immune response.
If this is effective then Phase 1 is triggered. This is the first phase of clinical testing where the vaccine is given to a small group of people.
This is done in order to determine if the vaccine is safe, if it provokes reactions in test subjects, and if so whether they are more prominent in certain types of people.
If Phase 1 is successful then scientists press on to Phase 2.
As part of Phase 2 scientists give the vaccine to hundreds of people. This is to determine what sort of dosage people need and how safe the vaccine is.
Once the dosage is established and the vaccine is determined as safe, Phase 3 is started.
In Phase 3 the vaccine is given to thousands of people.
This gives scientists a bigger pool to test the vaccine with and helps them establish rare side effects.
As part of Phase 3 participants are also given placebo drugs.
If Phase 3 is successful the vaccine is approved and can be distributed for mass use amongst populations.
At present there are three vaccines that are close to being approved.
In the UK, the University of Oxford is leading the way with its trial in collaboration with AstraZeneca.
The vaccine is in a combined phase 2 and 3 trial in the UK, but in South Africa and Brazil it is in phase 3.
This jab is delivered via a vaccine vector which is also known as a chimpanzee virus.
The vector contains the genetic code of protein spikes.
These protein spikes are found in Covid-19 and trigger the immune response in the body.
This is while Chinese company Sinovac is also close to having its vaccine rolled out. It has moved to Phase 3 in Brazil and is based on inactive Covid-19 particles.
The last vaccine which is close to being rolled out is being developed by the University of Melbourne in conjunction with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.
While the vaccine is not thought to directly protect people from Covid-19 it is hoped it will boost the body’s non-specific immune response.
The trial is in Phase 3 and it is using a 100-year-old tuberculosis vaccine.
The Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and American biotech company Moderna are also both in Phase 2 of vaccine development.
CanSino Biologics and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology have produced a vaccine which has now been approved for military use, but the companies have yet to reveal how it will be distributed on a wider basis.
This is while Moderna could bring it’s first ever vaccine to market with its offering.
The Moderna vaccine works by tricking the body into producing its own proteins.
The information regarding a vaccine was published by the WHO in a blueprint on July 14.
The seven page document details all the vaccines which are currently in development.