Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic started, there has been a rat race to see who would make the most effective vaccine. There are over 50 vaccine candidates from different countries. Recently, UK is the first country in the world to start administering the vaccine created by Pfizer/BioNtech. This has been approved as an emergency situation and now, other countries such as the US are also demanding vaccines for an emergency.
Vaccine was first made and applied during the 18th century by Edward Jenner which was followed up by Louis Pasteur during the 19th century. Since then vaccines were created for many diseases such as diphtheria, measles and rubella. So far smallpox is the only disease to be eradicated by the 1970’s. However, there are still many diseases for which there’s no vaccine.
A vaccine contains a harmless part of the causative organism. It can either be a weakened toxin, killed form of the micro-organism or a surface protein. The presence of even a part of the micro-organism triggers the immune system to produce antibodies which remain in the blood for sometime. So that even if the vaccinated person gets infected, the defense mechanisms known as immunity are already present in the body to give protection. Currently there are many ways a vaccine can be made using different components of the causative organism.
Generally vaccines can take up to 10 years or more to be finally approved for public use. There are multiple stages which require extensive research and testing which are very costly. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed researchers and pharmaceutical companies to speed up the process to come up with a vaccine in less than a year. Dr Jerome Kim, Director-General of the International Vaccine Institute has claimed this as a “remarkable” achievement.
“Does this guarantee success? Not necessarily. Vaccine development is characterized by a high failure rate – often 93% between animal studies and registration of the product,” he added.
However, despite the use of vaccines over the centuries there are obstacles. For one the vaccine is made under strict conditions in the lab. Therefore, what effect it can have on the patients is unpredictable especially if the person is already immunocompromised. Also, there’s the high cost of production and transport to various countries. Then there are people who don’t believe in the effectiveness of a vaccine with France having the highest percentage in the world.
Researcher Joao Goncalves has asked people not to be afraid just because the vaccine has been achieved in the shortest time frame in history.
“The indications are that the available data for all the vaccines we have present only indicate that the side effects are the side effects of a stimulation of the immune system. So, one more piece of advice for people back home, don’t be afraid because immunity won’t create completely foreign side effects in your life,” he stressed at a meeting, where experts take stock of the measures taken to combat Covid-19 and look at how the disease is developing in the country.
There have been many rumors spread about the vaccines such as the vaccine having a microchip but they have all been dismissed as false. Of course one would be skeptical about the effectiveness of the vaccine being made in such a short time. This is an era where people use social media to voice their concerns or rumors. It is difficult to know what is true and what is false. The pharmaceutical companies are trying their best to produce the most effective vaccine in the shortest time because it would be good business for them. Governments of rich countries are willing to pay millions to secure the vaccine for their people. This is just the beginning of a lengthy journey. We need to wait and watch what would be the result of the vaccination. It can take up to one or even two years before all the governments around the world get their people vaccinated. Only then we can be sure which of the vaccines are the most effective.