Essay on Efforts Made to Find a Coronavirus Vaccine
Coronavirus: An Essay on Vaccines Progress
The year 2020 has been unlike anything we have experienced before as a nation. Globally, the different governments have been forced to enact measures aimed at protecting their citizens. In this regard, schools and businesses have been closed in adherence to the government's social distancing directives. Covid-19 was discovered in Wuhan, China; scientists and medical professionals have since been studying the virus based on how it spreads and manifests in human beings. Presently, there are no treatment options available for the Covid-19. The objective is to contain the virus by isolating the infected individuals and proper hygiene practices (Keni, Alexander, Nayak, Mudgal & Nandakumar (2020). As the globe works on the gradual reopening of the economy, scientists are keen on finding a vaccine against this disease. Thus, an analysis of the coronavirus vaccine progress will be essential.
Vaccines are practical and economical measures in the control and prevention of infectious diseases. In the history of infectious diseases like plague, polio, smallpox, and rabies, vaccines have been instrumental in reducing the mortality rates. The Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation has acknowledged that immunization facilitated a 55% decline in mortality rates between 1990 and 2017 (Harrison & Wu, 2020). Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention credit vaccines as crucial in the success of public health in this era. Based on the vaccines success, the White House has included them as part of its strategic plan in the management of pandemics.
Presently, a Covid-19 vaccine is yet to be discovered. Approximately forty pharmaceutical organizations and academic institutions have started programs focused on vaccine development against the coronavirus. Based on Abrams (2020), the researchers use previous data on SARS-CoV since SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV utilize the ACE2 receptor to access the human cells. The World Health Organization noted that a vaccine would not be expected in less than eighteen months. As of April 2020, approximately fifty vaccines were in development, with four institutions initiating the first phase of safety studies on humans.
Coronavirus Vaccine Progress
The development of a vaccine has been challenging due to the unique manifestation of the virus in different people. Consequently, there are three vaccination antigen selection blueprints under study. First, scientists are focused on building a whole disease vaccine. This vaccine, dead or inactive, will aim to trigger the body's immune response to new coronavirus infection. Next, the researchers will create subunit vaccines that will sensitize the immune system to particular subunits of the novel coronavirus. Regarding Covid-19, the study will focus on the S-spike protein that aids the virus to access the ACE2 enzyme receptor. Finally, the other plan would be to create RNA or DNA vaccines. However, they will need to be tested for efficiency and safety before being used on human subjects. The vaccine is characterized by harmless genetic code acquired from the virus, causing the disease. Thus, the first clinical test of the vaccine was initiated in March 2020 with four volunteers from Seattle.
The Different Types of Coronavirus Vaccines in Development
I. Subunit Vaccines
This includes antigens with robust immunogenicity capacity to stimulate the host's immune system. These vaccines are deemed safer and easier to develop; however, they need constant addition of adjuvants to ensure a robust immune response. Currently, several institutions have initiated programs that work on the development of the subunit vaccine. Notably, the S protein is used as an antigen.
II. Whole-cell, live and killed attenuated vaccines.
These vaccines offer several antigenic aspects to the host, vital in inducing the immunologic effectors against the virus. As traditional vaccines with mature development technology, they will be the first vaccines to be subjected to the clinical trials. The researchers are using the de-optimization technology to start the sequence of viral generation. This will allow for the rapid formation of the multiple vaccine candidates against the pathogen.
III. Live Vector Vaccines
The live vector vaccines are live viruses characterized by the combination of live attenuated vaccines and the safety of subunit vaccines. These vaccines are predominantly used to facilitate cellular immunity in vivo.
IV. Epitope Vaccines
They contain only particular fragments of distinct antigens prepared by the chemical synthesis process. Nevertheless, epitope vaccines are characterized by structural aspects and low molecular weight. Hence, aspects such as structural modification, adjuvants, and delivery systems are required in the formulation process. The scientists from Hong Kong University discovered the B and T cell epitopes from the SARS-CoV S and N proteins (Zhang et al., 2020). This will be integral in the development of the coronavirus vaccines.
V. mRNA Vaccine
This is an excellent alternative to traditional vaccine techniques. This is because of the vaccine's safety interests, low manufacturing costs, high potency, and short production cycles. The development of the mRNA vaccine entails identifying the antigens, sequence optimization, analysis of the modified nucleotides, delivery system optimization, evaluation of the immune response, and safety tests (Zhang et al., 2020). Presently, the coronavirus mRNA vaccine has been initiated in clinical batch production and animal experiments.
The first phase of the clinical trial was conducted in Wuhan China to determine the safety of the coronavirus vaccines. In this trial, conducted between 16th and 27th March 2020, 108 healthy individuals aged 18 and 60 were enrolled. Based on the administered vaccine dosage, they were each assigned to the various study groups. According to Cascella, Rajnik, Cuomo, Dulebohn & Di Napoli (2020), this clinical trial's objective was to evaluate any adverse cases within the seven days after vaccination. On the other hand, safety was evaluated twenty-eight days after vaccination. Within these twenty-eight days, the most common injection reaction was pain, while the most critical reaction was headaches, fatigue, muscle pains, and fever (Cascella et al., 2020). However, no adverse effects were reported during this period. The second phase is ongoing, with emphasis on providing additional details on the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine.
Abrams, J. (2020). Coronavirus (The Invisible Killer) (1st ed.). Libera Publishing.
Cascella, M., Rajnik, M., Cuomo, A., Dulebohn, S. C., & Di Napoli, R. (2020). Features, evaluation and treatment coronavirus (COVID-19). In Statpearls [internet]. StatPearls Publishing.
Harrison, E. A., & Wu, J. W. (2020). Vaccine confidence in the time of COVID-19. European journal of epidemiology, 35(4), 325-330.
Keni, R., Alexander, A., Nayak, P. G., Mudgal, J., & Nandakumar, K. (2020). COVID-19: Emergence, spread, possible treatments, and global burden. Frontiers in public health, 8, 216.
Zhang, J., Zeng, H., Gu, J., Li, H., Zheng, L., & Zou, Q. (2020). Progress and prospects on vaccine development against SARS-CoV-2. Vaccines, 8(2), 153.