At this time, when the novel coronavirus is spreading at a rapid rate affecting people all over the world, scientists are in a hurry to develop the vaccine that is fit for human use. Up till now, over 160 candidates are there, out of which 27 vaccine candidates have reached human trial.
This is when Russia is all set to register the first COVID-19 vaccine that was developed by the Russian defense ministry and Gamaleya Research Institute by 12th August, hence becoming the first country to launch the coronavirus vaccine.
As the noble coronavirus is rapidly spreading around the globe, affecting millions of people, a vaccine has become a necessity. A vaccine makes your body immune against the virus so that it cannot cause any health problems to you.
This would ensure your safety, even if you are in physical contact with the carrier. This way, the spread of the virus will decrease, and at some point, it will be eradicated, and we can go back to our healthy lives just like the older times.
Whereas, The cure is only limited to a person. It can only improve the person’s health affected by a coronavirus. It did not decrease the spread at all. We can say that a cure is like a temporary pain killer.
In usual cases, vaccine development includes testing processes in three-phase before it is approved for large-scale use. But in the case of coronavirus vaccine, only phase I has been successfully completed. In Phase-I, it is determined how safe is the vaccine, by testing it on a group of volunteers. The authorities have claimed that there were no symptoms of side effects in the tested volunteers, and they would soon be released from the hospital.
In phase-II, they determine the immunity and efficiency of the vaccine against the virus. This phase is conducted to check whether the vaccine is generating the desired response and to calculate the optimum amount of dose to trigger the immune response. And finally, phase-III is conducted to test whether the vaccine is efficient enough in real-life situations, and to accomplish it, thousands of volunteers are involved.
This is a very lengthy process and could take several months to finish. But in the case of the Russian vaccine, phase-II is not yet completed, and there is no guarantee of its success without its completion. As per the current situation, we don’t have much time. Even the vaccine developed in China was allowed to be used after the success of phase-II. But as of now, the vaccine could only be tested on army personnel.
Therefore, it is on the Russian authorities to decide whether the COVID-19 vaccine would be requiring phase-III or not. Even after the completion of phase-III, it would take around 12-18 months before the vaccine is accessible to the public. Even then, it is doubtful that the coronavirus vaccine would be available for all.
At first, it would be made available to people like health workers who have a huge risk of getting in contact with the virus. And, it would take several years before the world becomes immune to the novel coronavirus, just like when polio was eradicated.
The process of the COVID-19 vaccine development process has been speeded up, but then the question arises – Who gets the early access to the vaccine? Along with monitoring the development of the vaccine, WHO is putting a lot of effort to make the vaccine available for all as soon as possible. Hence, they have invited all the countries to be a part of the COVAX platform to accelerate the development process further.
Till now, the coronavirus has affected about 20 million people around the world, and among 160+ vaccines in the development process, five candidates are in their final testing stage. These candidates have signed a pact with WHO to get access to testing, required funding and production so that they can be manufactured enough to reach every corner of the world.
The priority of the early supply would be given to poor or middle-income countries or those who have an inefficient healthcare system. For mass-production, many vaccine companies have signed a pact with pharmaceuticals. Till now, around 75 countries are willing to become a part of this initiative, to raise funds for the further development of the vaccine.
This way, they ensure that a certain amount of doses are reserved for them at the time of vaccine deployment. While at the same time, the COVAX platform is ensuring that the countries which don’t have enough funds to support this initiative will be well assisted.
From the support of these countries, WHO is estimating that the vaccine could be made available for 20% of the total population in the beginning. They are also trying to make this coronavirus vaccine available in the market at a reasonable price, which is not too difficult to afford.