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Coronavirus vaccine: why can’t it happen right away?

With nearly 5,000 new cases of COVID-19 coronavirus infections per day, scientists around the world are under tremendous pressure to find treatment and deal with a pandemic. Money doesn’t seem to be a problem – new and new grants are announced every day. Last Friday alone, the European Commission funded 137 scientific teams working on the development of vaccines and drugs against coronavirus.

Coronavirus vaccine developed in a hurry

In early March, US President Donald Trump announced to directors of pharmaceutical companies and health authorities that he wanted the vaccination against corona ready before the elections in November.

The drug manufacturers are working to develop a vaccine as soon as possible. Behind the scenes, however, scientists and medical experts are concerned that a hastily developed coronavirus vaccine may make infection worse than prevent it in some patients.

How does the vaccination work?

How vaccinations work to support the immune system

The reason is the principle of action of the vaccines. Scientists try to mimic the pathogen and then expose the human immune system to its effects with a small dose given as an injection. Ideally, the immune system develops a strong memory for the pathogen so that the body attacks it the next time it comes into contact before the infection can spread. The trick is to do this without the patient becoming seriously ill from the vaccination themselves. There are several different methods of making vaccines, but all of them must strike this delicate balance.

Coronavirus vaccine must first be tested on animals

Researchers typically take months of animal testing to determine the likelihood that a vaccine will make the patient worse or better. Given the urgency to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, some drug manufacturers are moving straight to small tests on people without waiting for animal testing to end, Reuters writes.

“I know how important it is to cut deadlines significantly in general, but from all of the information I have, I don’t think this is the way to go,” says Dr. Peter Hotes, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in the United States in front of Reuters.

Covid19 vaccine already tested on humans

Hotes helped develop the SARS vaccine, the coronavirus that started the 2003 epidemic. He then found that some vaccinated animals developed more severe disease than non-vaccinated animals exposed to the virus. To reduce this risk, it must first be tested on animals before the vaccine can be given to humans.

For now, at least, global experts believe expedited testing is a risk worth taking.

Vaccine already tested on humans

World Health Organization has declared Covid-19 a pandemic

At a special meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) in mid-February to coordinate the global response to the new coronavirus, researchers and drug makers from around the world disagreed on whether the threat is so great that vaccine developers must quickly switch to human testing before the animal experiments have been completed.

The results of the meeting were not officially announced by the WHO. They do not represent the official position of the main United Nations health agency.

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) markets drugs

Supervision of drug manufacturers and medical research is in the hands of national regulatory authorities. You have a responsibility to market the drugs. The most powerful of these, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has signaled that it won’t interfere with the accelerated vaccine testing plans.

“When responding to a public health emergency like a new coronavirus, we want to be flexible and review all data on a particular vaccine,” FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Kakomo said in a statement. The agency didn’t comment specifically on animal testing, Reuters said.

Coronavirus vaccine developers must conduct routine animal testing to ensure the vaccine itself is non-toxic and helps the immune system respond to the virus.