Recently, the Deputy Chief of Medicine of England, Jonathan Vantam, stated a quote that no one wants to hear: "We are not sure if we can produce the vaccine (Covid-19)".
Currently, about 70 teams around the world are working together to study some types of vaccines against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or Covid-19. Although the study was done at an impressive rate, scientists still think the vaccine can only be produced in about 12 to 18 months.
To understand why the opinion was issued and why scientists expect at least two years before vaccines can be produced, let us first study the history of previous vaccines.
The Fastest Vaccine Produced Takes 4 Years
Vaccines are, in principle, simple but very complex in practice. The ideal vaccine is a vaccine that protects against infection, prevents its spread and most importantly is safe for human consumption.
Taking the example of the dengue virus identified in 1943, the first vaccine produced was only approved last year. In comparison, the fastest vaccine produced in history is for mumps, which takes four years.
Producing a vaccine for Coronavirus is not an easy task. Three main challenges need to be addressed:
Ensuring Vaccine Safety. Like vaccines for SARS that have undergone animal testing, most of these vaccines increase the survival of the animal but are not able to prevent infection. Some vaccines also have complications such as lung damage. The Covid-19 vaccine needs to be thoroughly tested to ensure safety for millions or maybe billions of people.
Provides Long Term Protection. The risk of re-infection in those who have been infected with Coronavirus can occur. Although it is rare and only occurs in a small part of humans, it can still occur after a few months or years, at the same time able to cause global infection again. The effective COVID-19 vaccine should ensure long-term protection for humans.
Protecting Senior Citizens. People over the age of 50 have a critical risk of getting COVID-19. It should be noted that seniors do not respond to vaccines as well as those who are younger. The ideal COVID-19 vaccine should work well for those in this group.
Previous Studies Can Accelerate Covid-19 Vaccine Production
However, not everything is bad news. Thanks to previous studies for SARS and MERS vaccines, scientists do not have to start a study from scratch. This is because Covid-19 has several similarities at once scientists named this virus SARS-CoV-2
Coronavirus has a nail structure on its surface called S protein (the nail looks like a crown named Corona). The protein will attach to the surface of human cells. So the vaccine that can target the protein can prevent the fusion of human cells and prevent the virus from multiplying.
To ordinary people, the duration required may seem too long, but for most vaccine experts, it is very optimistic. This is because it usually takes at least ten years for a vaccine to be approved for general use.
So, let us pray and take responsibility in practising the new norms and following all the rules set by the authorities. Practice #socialdistancing, wear a face mask when sick and ensure good personal hygiene.