There are various factors that have helped the global medical community to create effective vaccines that can be used to protect the population from COVID-19.
- Vaccines can prevent infectious diseases.1
- There has been a global emergency vaccine response to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Within two weeks of COVID-19 being discovered, researchers knew how the virus entered cells. Within two months, Phase 1 trials of the first vaccine had begun.3
A united global approach, large financial investments, knowledge that we already had about the coronavirus, and an urgency to combat the pandemic all played a part in the quick creation of various COVID-19 vaccines.
SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the virus that causes COVID-19. It is one of hundreds of different types of coronavirus. They include the viruses that cause the common cold, and those that led to the SARS epidemic in 2002 and the spread of MERS in 2012.2,3
Scientists have been studying coronaviruses for over 50 years, and so when the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was already a lot of research available. We knew that the viral spike protein was very important, and that this was the part of the virus that should be targeted when creating a vaccine. This meant that the road to having a vaccine ready was much shorter.2
A global effort and speedy process
The vaccine creation process has been quicker than usual. This is for a few reasons1,2:
- A lot of money has been invested into research and trials
- Vaccines are being researched, developed, tested, and approved in lots of countries
- Lots of people have volunteered to take part in clinical trials
- Vaccines have been widely used to treat other diseases for hundreds of years, so scientists could use existing vaccine technology to create a new vaccine for COVID-19
- The consecutive steps that would normally take place one after another have been carried out simultaneously, while still following the same safety and efficacy requirements.
Emergency use authorization
The need for a quick solution to the pandemic led to the emergency use authorization of various COVID-19 vaccines. The emergency use authorization can be given when the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the known and possible risks. This means that the vaccines can be used widely, and that creators of the vaccine must continue to follow up with safety as the vaccine is used.1
- Update on COVID-19 vaccine development. World Health Organization. COVID Update 45. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/risk-comms-updates/update45-vaccines-developement.pdf?sfvrsn=13098bfc_5. Updated December 21, Accessed February 26, 2021.
- How did we develop a COVID-19 vaccine so quickly? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-did-we-develop-a-covid-19-vaccine-so-quickly. Accessed February 26,
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/coronaviruses. Reviewed on May 19, 2020. Accessed February 26, 2021.