The COVID-19 pandemic has taken scientists and all healthcare professionals, who work with automatic fire, unprepared and is trying to discover a vaccine against COVID-19 by 2021.
Researchers are testing 27 vaccines in phase one, 15 in phase two, 9 in phase three and another 5 that are already approved for limited use, according to the latest data updated by the New York Times on September 18. But next to vaccines that are approved for widespread use, there is still zero, and it is not known for how long.
The role of vaccines
Vaccines save millions of lives every year, and their goal is to train the immune system to recognize and fight viruses and bacteria. Immunization prevents between two and three million deaths each year, with diseases now considered common, such as influenza, measles, diphtheria or tetanus.
There are vaccines to prevent over 20 diseases that would otherwise be life-threatening and work is underway at an unparalleled pace to make COVID-19 a disease that can be prevented through vaccination, according to information from the organization. World health.
The purpose of the COVID-19 vaccine
A COVID-19 vaccine does not mean that an infected person is miraculously cured, or that a vaccinated person will never be able to come into contact with the virus. The goal is to stimulate the immune system to produce effective antibodies against the virus.
It all started with the decryption of the SARS-CoV-2 genome in January, and the first studies on the safety of a human vaccine began in March.
27 vaccines have reached phase one, 15 have reached phase two, 9 in phase three, 5 are approved for limited use and there are at least 92 that have not yet reached the clinical phase, with still studies on animals, according to data from 18 September .
What does each phase mean?
Step 1 – Researchers administer the vaccine to a small number of people to test for safety and dosage and to get confirmation that it stimulates the immune system.
Phase 2 – Hundreds of people are involved by age group to find out if the vaccine works differently depending on this aspect. The vaccine’s safety and ability to stimulate the immune system are still monitored.
Phase 3 – Thousands of people participate and compare themselves with a placebo group (ie volunteers who are told that they are getting the vaccine, but who get to know something else without knowing about it). Specialists are waiting to see how many are infected to see how effective the vaccine is. To be considered effective, it should protect at least half of those vaccinated. In addition, the number of participants is already large enough to observe any side effects.
Approval for limited use – China and Russia have approved vaccines against COVID-19 without waiting for the results of the studies carried out in phase three. Experts say there are serious risks.
Approval – The regulatory authorities in each country analyze the results of the studies and decide whether a vaccine should be approved or not. In a special situation, such as a pandemic, the vaccine may be authorized for emergency use before official approval is obtained. Even if a vaccine is approved, specialists continue to monitor the people to whom it is given. There are still no vaccines that have reached this stage.
Which vaccines have come the furthest?
There are five vaccines that are approved for limited use, which have reached phase three, but have passed without waiting for the results of the studies.
1. CanSino Biologics
The Chinese company CanSino Biologics has developed an adenovirus-based vaccine, Ad5, in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences. Their research began in May, when they published the promising results from phase one, and in July they reported that studies in phase two show that the vaccine elicits a strong immune response. The Chinese military approved the vaccine on June 25, for one year, as a “specialty medicine needed.”
CanSino Biologics began phase three in Saudi Arabia on August 9 and then began the process in Pakistan.
According to data collected by the World Health Organization, which contains a list of all ongoing vaccines, along with reports for each phase, the CanSino Biologics vaccine is funded by NPO Petrovax, a biopharmaceutical company in Russia.
2. Gamaleya Research Institute
The Gamaleya Research Institute is part of the Russian Ministry of Health and began clinical trials for a vaccine against COVID-19 in June, called Gam-Covid-Vac. It is a combination of two adenoviruses, Ad5 and Ad26.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that the vaccine was approved on August 11 and will be renamed Sputnik V before phase three research begins. Experts considered it risky, so the announcement was withdrawn, saying the approval is a “conditional registration certificate” that would depend on the results of the phase three studies.
These studies, which were originally planned to include 2,000 volunteers, were expanded to 40,000 volunteers.
Gamaleya researchers published the results of the first two phases on September 4, showing that the vaccine produced antibodies and had mild side effects. Russia has meanwhile negotiated agreements to supply the vaccine to Brazil, Mexico and India, according to the New York Times.
The vaccine is funded by the Gamaleya Institute, which reports to the Ministry of Health.
3. Sinovac Biotech
Sinovac Biotech is a private Chinese company testing a vaccine called CoronaVac. The company announced in June that it had completed the first two phases, in which 743 volunteers participated, and that there were no serious side effects and that an immune response was generated.
Subsequently, Sinovac Biotech began phase three studies in Brazil in July and in Indonesia in August.
The company also registered a vaccine study for children on 16 September.
The Chinese government granted the Sinovac vaccine emergency approval for limited use in July, according to Reuters. In addition, the company has agreed to deliver at least 40 million doses to Indonesia by March 2021.
In the case of Sinovac Biotech, for the phase three studies, the sponsors are the Butantan Institute in Brazil, a public institution affiliated with the Sao Paulo Health Secretariat, but also PT Bio Farma, the only local vaccine manufacturer in Indonesia.
4. Wuhan Institute of Biological Products
The Wuhan Institute has developed a vaccine against COVID-19, which the Chinese state-owned company Sinopharm has made for clinical trials. The first two phases showed that the vaccine produced antibodies, but that some volunteers had fever and other side effects.
Phase three began in the United Arab Emirates in July and in Peru and Morocco in August.
The vaccine was approved urgently on 14 September and is used by people working in the health field.
Sinopharm is also testing a vaccine against COVID-19, developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products.
Phase three took place in the United Arab Emirates, where 5,000 people will receive the Wuhan Institute version, and another 5,000 people will receive the Beijing Institute version.
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