How's the race to find the Coronavirus vaccine?

The most recent tests are on a patch vaccine that is being tested in mice and others are already in clinical trials.

Person holding a syringe.

Various actors in the medical industry are focusing their efforts on finding a vaccine to stop the pandemic. / Photo: Rawpixel

LatinamericanPost| Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: ¿Cómo va la carrera para encontrar la vacuna del Coronavirus?

The whole world is turning its attention to the Coronavirus, but more importantly, scientists, countries, companies and pharmaceutical companies are looking for a vaccine that can help dispel the virus that has already exceeded one million cases.

The first signs of a vaccine came to light from Germany, which the United States tried to inject with millions of dollars in exchange for the vaccine being exclusive to its country. Since then, countries and companies have begun investigations that are expected to take at least 12 months to complete all phases and have a vaccine ready for marketing.

Meanwhile, the WHO said that at least 20 vaccines are being worked on around the world. On March 18, the organization's director confirmed the first clinical trial of the vaccine, 60 days after China shared the genetic sequence of the virus.

A race between two powers

The United States and China, eternal rivals, compete once again and each one seeks to be the first to find the vaccine that would stop one of the most powerful viruses in recent times.

At the moment, China is the country with the most progress on the road to vaccination. Being the first affected country, it was able to take advantage to carry out research that allowed them to know the genetic sequence, a great advance to know how to proceed in the manufacture of the vaccine.

Human trials were cataloged as successful so the next step would be to start producing it on a larger scale, which requires much more testing. However, from Beijing they warned that the vaccine will not be available for mass use probably for 12 to 18 months. Meanwhile, China's Defense Ministry signed that "the vaccine has been tested for safety, effectiveness and quality control and is ready for mass production."

For its part, the United States has not lagged behind and the race has also begun. The latest breakthrough was from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, which began successfully testing mice. According to a scientific article published in The Lancet, the vaccine is administered with a patch the size of a fingertip and it produces antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the scientific name for the coronavirus. From the looks of it, the amounts have been enough to neutralize the virus.

Also read: COVID-19 workers get training to protect their own health

Like the possible Chinese vaccine, there is still a long way to go before affirming its effectiveness and being able to use it massively. According to Eduardo Oliver, from the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) and a pharmacology expert interviewed by EFE, "It is very important that the population is aware that, even in the best possible scenario, a candidate for vaccine or treatment must be thoroughly studied and evaluated before going to the population to avoid, as the Spanish proverbs say, that the remedy is worse than the disease." This would explain the time it takes for a potential vaccine to be approved for mass use.

According to data from the NGO RAPS, there are 25 processes in the early phases. Another 11 preclinical phase processes, including animal testing, hope to move to the main phase in no time. And finally, in that final phase, phase 1, there is a process in China, one in the United States and one in England and it consists of starting the tests in humans.

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