All over the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is raging, with almost two million people worldwide said to have been infected with the virus. Over 120,000 people are said to have died worldwide, and almost half a million people have recovered. This data is still preliminary but this pandemic has prompted governments and health officials all over the world to act, and quickly. And now there might be some room for hope, as the World Health Organization has announced the development of 70 vaccines that are being developed worldwide.
As it stands right now, there is no way to know if someone who has been through the illness can’t be infected again, and our knowledge of COVID-19 is limited but growing. This is why it’s so important that swift action is taken in the fight against this invisible enemy. The elderly and people with pre-existing conditions are currently at the highest risk, but everyone has been warned to take strict precautions such as social distancing and staying home except for absolutely essential services or to get groceries or medication. Since the virus has no known therapeutic, and no vaccine, the only way to prevent mass infection rates was to slow the spread of the virus itself.
But containment measures are not proving to be enough. As people continue to get infected and die, progress on the vaccines themselves seems to be moving at a previously unprecedented speed. As drug makers and researchers all around the world have jumped in to help, the hope is that a vaccine will be ready within a year, a sharp turn from the 10-15 years it would take under normal circumstances.
As of now, according to the WHO, there are three candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation. The furthest along is an experimental vaccine in stage two of the clinical process. This experimental vaccine has been developed by Hong Kong-based CaSino Biologics and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. This vaccine is an Adenovirus Type 5 Vector candidate vaccine and is currently the furthest along. There is also a DNA plasmid vaccine Electroporation device candidate vaccine being developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, in Pennsylvania, and a LNPencapsulated mRNA candidate vaccine being developed by Moderna/NIAID, both of these candidate vaccines are still in Phase one of the clinical trial process.
All of these vaccines have been fast-tracked receiving regulatory approval ahead of any usual time frame. Moderna, based in Massachusetts received regulatory approval to move quickly to human trials in March, skipping the years of animal trials that are the norm in developing vaccines. Inovio began its human trials last week.
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