It’s been a long while of face masks, face shields, sanitizers and social distancing. Covid-19 has not only changed our way of life but our fortunes too. The sad reality that remains is that, there is still no one established cure hence the need for a vaccine.
Vaccines work by training and preparing the bodies’ immune system to recognize and fight off viruses and bacteria they target.
While developing new drugs and vaccines takes several years (about ten years) it was essential to find a lasting solution to Covid-19 soon enough due to the continued large toll of death due to the virus and its high transmission rate.
Here are the stages to vaccine development;
- Pre-clinical stage
Research intensive phase that usually takes up to four years
Its aim is to find natural or synthetic antigens that trigger the same reaction as a bacteria or virus
- Safety and the right dose testing
Phase 1 testing-the first time a vaccine is tested in a small group of adults to evaluate safety and measure the immune response generated
Phase 2a – To determine the most effective dose and to expand the vaccine’s safety profile.
Phase 1 and 2a last several months to a year.
Phase 2b and 3 trials increase the number of people receiving the vaccine
- Effectiveness trial
More volunteers receive the vaccine to check its effectiveness
Before volunteers are vaccinated, they are tested to ensure they are Covid-19 negative.
Half of the study sample is given the vaccine while the other half receives a placebo.
Both are then followed up for a while to see if they develop Covid-19 symptoms.
- Regulatory approval and licensing
After a successful phase 3, manufacturers submit an application to bodies like FDA for approval
- Then manufacture on large scale, and international distribution is commenced.
NB; The manufacture of Covid-19 vaccine seems hurried, but all the necessary steps and protocols were observed by doing some steps concurrently.
Approved for manufacture and international distribution are the two vaccines by Atrazeneca and Moderna.
Mutahi Kagwe, the minister for health assured Kenyans that they would receive the vaccine for free once it becomes available
Once available to African countries and Kenya specifically, the plan is to have it incorporated in our vaccination program and ensure every person gets it.
With some countries in the west receiving the vaccine, our greatest hope as a country is that soon enough, we will be among the vaccinated.