Several pharmaceutical companies are now scrambling to finish their experimental coronavirus vaccines in the hopes of finally curbing the spread of the deadly disease that has infected and killed millions of people worldwide.
The question that most people now ask is how effective a vaccine would be and how quickly it could be produced. Only 11 months after the discovery of the novel coronavirus, two vaccine candidates have popped up, ready to shoulder the responsibility of helping the world.
The pharmaceutical companies that developed the experimental treatments used breakthrough vaccine technology that could later be used to change the way we tackle illnesses and diseases in the future.
Moderna Pfizer recently announced the results of their clinical trials with extremely positive efficacy. Pfizer has already submitted its vaccine, which it worked with research collaborator BioNTech to develop, for emergency use to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Experts said that Moderna would most likely submit for the same authorization in the coming weeks.
The hastened progress of the experimental vaccines is a historic achievement in the science field. Normally, scientists spend decades developing a properly working vaccine that could combat certain illnesses or diseases. However, Moderna and Pfizer managed to produce an experimental treatment in less than a year. Officials commend the technology they used to create the drugs.
The two pharmaceutical companies used synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA), which is a molecule that helps cells build proteins. Scientists use the molecule to produce the same type of proteins found in SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. The event prompts the immune system without exposing patients to the risks of an actual infection, which allows the body to build up defenses against the disease.
The two experimental vaccines are the first to use the innovative technology. If the treatments are as effective as tests show, they could pave the way towards a new era of scientific accomplishments in vaccine and therapeutic design. Given enough time and resources, scientists could refine mRNA to treat more than just the COVID-19 virus.
An immunologist at the University of Queensland, Australia, Larisa Labzin, said, “I think we’ll see some pretty incredible breakthroughs based on these technologies in the future.” Experts said that if another pandemic spreads around the world, the mRNA technology could bring a much faster response and help eradicate the disease instantly.
Many people are wondering if the vaccines could be useful over a longer period of time. While some experts say that the end of the coronavirus pandemic is still far into the future, the results of clinical trials have been overwhelmingly positive. Even after the vaccines get approved for emergency use, and after they get distributed, it would still take some time for the COVID-19 virus to be totally eradicated.
However, the extremely positive results that mRNA has shown have given public health experts hope that the worst of the pandemic would soon be over. Scientists would need to study and observe the long-term effects and useability of the vaccines, CNET reported.
The small steps are considered an achievement in the field of medicine and vaccine development. If mRNA could become plug-and-play and correctly follow our instructions through programming, the thoughts of curing highly fatal diseases and illnesses could come sooner.
Analysts said that if a new virus causes a similar type of pandemic, we would be better prepared to handle the situation. There is new technology available that would help speed up the development of an effective vaccine. However, despite the speedy process, scientists would ensure that safety is still the number one priority in producing an experimental treatment.
Professor of immunology at RMIT University, Australia, Magdalena Plebanski, said, “When you tweak an mRNA sequence or formulation in a vaccine, you are highly likely to need to go all the way back to square one.” She added that safety is the first thing scientists look at when developing vaccines, resulting in extensive tests and trials.