What are the challenges of vaccine development?

Alongside the puzzle in the laboratory exists another problem: the challenges of large-scale production.
by Tala Ramadan

17 May 2020 | 15:58

Source: by Annahar

  • by Tala Ramadan
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 17 May 2020 | 15:58

In this March 16, 2020, file photo, a patient receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT: Global health authorities and vaccine developers are attempting to meet the overwhelming demand for a successful coronavirus vaccine with unprecedented cooperation between researchers, industry, and regulators, yet, past research on vaccines for coronaviruses has identified some key challenges to developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

While it may seem like coming up with a vaccine to halt the virus in a matter of months is a huge colossal challenge, it isn’t the only one present especially when the stakes are immense with the virus sickening more than 3 million people.

Alongside the puzzle in the laboratory exists another problem: the challenges of large-scale production.

As many are squabbling over the timing and details of how to develop the coronavirus vaccine, global health authorities are pointing further ahead to the world’s ability to produce enough to meet demand.

The big challenge is scaling up manufacturing as the infrastructure needed will differ depending on the vaccine type.

In order to meet the production demand, the industry needs to start preparing for manufacturing in parallel with research, even before the clinical results become available.

Fair distribution

Vaccines protect the vaccinated persons against the infection, and reduce transmission, protecting those who are not vaccinated by reducing the number of people who can transmit disease, drastically reducing spread, this concept is often known as “herd immunity.”

Since vaccines serve these two related but distinct functions, equitable vaccine distribution is essential to achieving herd immunity and would need to reach all corners of the world in order to effectively tackle the virus.

Higher-income countries usually have higher vaccination rates for routine vaccines than lower-income countries, and coverage disparities within countries cleave along economic lines. Earlier this month, global leaders met virtually, in a meeting designed to show that wealthy countries will not keep the results of research from developing countries, and pledged to accelerate cooperation on a coronavirus vaccine and to share research, treatment, and medicines across the globe, but how that could be enforced in practice isn’t clear.

The COVID19 exit strategy will depend on getting a vaccine to the whole world by overcoming these challenges.

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