• Navyaa Mittal

Coronavirus : A brief analysis of the vaccination development process.

In December 2019, the first case of Coronavirus was identified in China. As the new year began, the virus rapidly spread throughout the world causing a global pandemic and completely changing life as we knew it. With millions of people affected by the virus and many others in quarantine, everyone is waiting for the vaccine with bated breath. Over the course of many months, quite a few times Countries and Universities have claimed to be producing a vaccine, the most recent of which is Russia’s “miracle”, Sputnik-V.

How long does it actually take to make a vaccine?

Usually, there are 3 key phases of testing in order to make a viable vaccine, in the first phase, it is tested on a small group of people, where half are actually given the vaccination, while the rest are just given plain vials, the volunteers are unaware of this fact and it is done to check its effectiveness more efficiently. In Phase Two, hundreds of people are given the vaccine in the same way to determine the dosage and finally, in Phase Three, it is mass tested on thousands for identifying possible side effects. Phase Three is the most important stage in the process of development of a vaccine and usually takes around One to Four Years.

Russia’s announcement

On August 11, President Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia had become the first country to produce a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine, named Sputnik-V, after the first satellite. They plan to start industrial production in September, according to a statement made by the Russian Deputy Prime Minister. As per the Health Minister, it will first be administered to high risk groups and front line workers like medical personnel and teachers, in the next two weeks.

As a show of faith in the vaccine, Putin claimed that one of his daughters had been part of the testing process. He was quoted saying, “I know that it works quite effectively, forms strong immunity, and I repeat, it has passed all the needed checks.” The vaccine is expected to provide immunity from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, for upto two years.

How did Russia prepare a vaccine this early?

Well, the reason for that is the Russian vaccine has not yet gone through the third phase of testing, many experts including WHO officials believe that Russia’s attempt to be the first country to produce the vaccine and effectively “win the race” comes at the cost of efficacy and safety. There is also speculation that the vaccine might trigger ADE, which leaves the body at a higher vulnerability to infection, or similar issues since the same has been observed in previous vaccines tested on animals. Such side effects would usually be curbed by the Phase Three of testing, but not in this case.

What does this mean?

Releasing a vaccine that has not been properly tested and for which data has not been released can have many serious implications. The side effects can lead to major health problems for millions, if not billions around the globe. Another problem that an inadequate vaccine would pose is that it would give people a false sense of security which can result in a deadly surge of cases and also lessen the faith of people in vaccination as a whole

What does the future hold?

Some of the other promising vaccines like Ad5-nCOV developed by CanSino Biologics in China, mRNA-1273 also known as the Moderna vaccine or the vaccine by Oxford University and AstraZeneca are in stage 3 of trials already, but it is important for us to know, these things take time, and we need to wait until a safe, reliable and properly tested Vaccine comes along. But until then, wear your mask, wash your hands, perform social distancing, and stay safe.

~Navyaa Mittal