COVID-19 Vaccines Near Completion: An experimental vaccine brings hope amid the pandemic.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many are looking to a coming vaccine as a solution. There has been talk of developing a preventative vaccine since lock downs began in March, and the issue has been a topic of debate throughout the presidential election. While it may seem to still be an abstract and
distant idea, companies such as AstraZeneca have made significant progress.

The drug company claims to have created an experimental drug that causes an immunity response in both young and older adults. The vaccine is also said to reduce negative effects of the virus on the elderly, according to the University of Oxford who developed it alongside AstraZeneca.

It appears that the experimental vaccine could cause an immunity response in the elderly as well, all without any side effects. “It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older
and younger adults,” said an AstraZeneca spokesman, “and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults,
where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher.” The vaccine is currently in phase-three trials, which
must be completed to determine the efficacy of the vaccine. Phase-three trials consist of wide-scale testing involving thousands of participants. Annelies Wilder-Smith, professor of emerging infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, described these trials as a “prerequisite for licensing.”

“The programme is progressing well [but] we’re not there yet,” said British Health Secretary Matt Hancock about the release of the vaccine. However, Hancock told Aljazeera that he was preparing logistics for a possible roll-out mostly in the first half of 2021.

Development for the vaccine, also known as the “Oxford vaccine,” began in January, and is formally
called AZD1222 or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. The vaccine was made from a version of the common cold that affects chimpanzees, which was then genetically engineered to include a spike-protein that COVID-19 uses to get into human cells.

The vaccine introduces neutralizing antibodies, similar to those of people who survived the virus, into
the body, which prevents the patient from contracting the virus. It also induces the patient’s body to make T cells, which experts believe will activate a second part of the immune system, thereby making the immune response more significant.

As of right now, there are over 200 different vaccines being developed to combat COVID-19, with around a dozen of them in phase-three trials. Because of this, Wilder-Smith says that there will likely be more than one vaccine made available around the same time.

“Probably the first two vaccines will come at around the same time and then new additional vaccines will
come out,” she said. “The intent is that by the end of 2021, we would have two billion doses of vaccine that would be fairly distributed to countries around the world.”

While the end of 2021 can still feel far away, having an effective solution to a deadly virus available on such a large scale is an incredible and game-changing feat.

Sources: Aljazeera

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