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Update - Development of Covid 19 Vaccines Around The World

Have you been wondering about the origins of covid 19 vaccines around the world - read this update - where are covid 19 vaccines being developed as of February 2021.

If like us, you have been left feeling totally confused about which of the covid 19 vaccines was made in Europe, US or in Asia ......

...which contains the coronavirus or was made using new gene technology, then the next few paragraphs will answer your queries.

(Or watch the full video here:)


where are covid 19 vaccines being developed

Introduction

Hold tight people, the Covid 19 vaccine arena is gradually expanding.

The number of vaccines being developed in different parts of the world for approval will keep increasing.

By the end of December 2020, we had three vaccines that had been approved.

Their circulation had started in different parts of the world and already many countries were administering the vaccines.

Just five weeks later there are nine vaccines on the horizon - most of them in use, or awaiting approval in their origin countries.


Covid 19 Vaccines Around The World

where are covid 19 vaccines being developed

United States - PfizerBioNTech, Moderna

The two first vaccines developed from US were also special for another reason - gene based technology.

These vaccines use mRNA (messenger RNA) based on the virus spike protein to deliver a cellular blue print.

Our cells read the blue print and start creating the spike protein that looks exactly like that of the virus.

Next, our immune system cells are primed to recognise the spike protein and raise an immune response.

Therefore if we are ever infected with the actual virus, our immune system is ready to attack the virus.

Gene based technology is not new, having been developed decades ago, and is also a technique for creating some cancer therapies.

These vaccines are the developments from Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna.


Covid 19 vaccines around the world

United Kingdom - Oxford Astrazeneca

Oxford's Astrazeneca vaccine's development has come about the same time as the US vaccines. They also employ gene based technology, in this case viral vector method.

A vector is another word for carrier.

In the viral vector method, scientists place the gene code for the coronavirus spike protein on a weaker virus (not SARS-CoV-2).

The weaker virus in this case is the 'chimpanzee cold-causing adenovirus' which acts as the carrier to deliver the spike protein into our cells and so develop immunity.


Covid 19 vaccines around the world

Russia - Sputnik V

Russia began to administer their Sputnik V in August/September 2020, at the same time it was undergoing phase two clinical trials.

This led to a stir among manufacturers of other covid 19 vaccines around the world.

Their phase three clinical trials do confirm it is a highly effective vaccine against the coronavirus, though it is not usual practice to give the vaccine to the general population before the completion of the larger phase three trials.

But how does the Sputnik V work?

Well, first, it follows the same technology as Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine, that is the viral vector to create an immune response.

In the Sputnik's case, they employ the use of two viral vectors instead of one.

You can have the vaccine in two doses (like Oxford Astrazeneca), however unlike the Oxfords', Sputnik's first dose is borne on a different human adenovirus to the second.

Manufacturers believe this method gives the Sputnik V an advantage over other single vector vaccines (oxford astrazeneca).

They also think the second vaccine dose may give the first one a boost in performance, making the vaccine highly effective (91% for prevention of PCR test proven symptomatic Covid-19).


where are covid 19 vaccines being developed

India - Covishield, Covaxin

In India, two vaccines have authorisation for use and the country has began it's roll out program.

Covishield , a development by India's Astrazeneca partner shares exactly the same features as the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine.

This means it works by viral vector technology.

On the other hand, Covaxin is the creation of a local Indian company.

It's one of the few vaccines (so far) we have that contains the killed or inactivated coronavirus.

This vaccine works in the same way as older, traditional (protein-based) vaccines.

The cells of our immune system recognise the foreign protein elements of the killed virus and this generates an immune response.

It is this action that prepares the body to respond if you become infected in future.


where are covid 19 vaccines being developed

China - Sinopharm, Coronavac

China's covid 19 vaccine development has also made big advances in the last 12 months.

Their local manufacturer, Sinovac is developing Coronavac based on killed or inactivated coronavirus technology.

A second local chinese company Sinopharm has two other vaccines under its belt - also using the killed virus method.

where are covid 19 vaccines being developed

About New Upcoming Vaccines

Outside of these seven vaccines, a couple more are high on the release list - from the United States.

Johnson & Johnson.

This also uses viral vector technology like Oxford Astrazenecas', but J&J boast having the first single dose option among Covid 19 vaccines under development.

This has exciting possibilities for greater use and acceptability - it also does not require sub-zero temperatures and uses standard refrigerator systems for storage/distribution.

Novavax.

The othe other vaccine solution just reporting its phase three trials which shows even further results is Novavax.

Of course, we know that viral mutations have become the more pressing challenge - including variants from Brazil, UK and South Africa.

These variants cause concern for two main reasons:

  • they can be more infectious
  • result in more severe illness
  • or, they may be resistant to current vaccines since each new strain may have a slightly different viral sequence.

And the last reason is why the Novavax phase three trials provides significant hope.

(It's ability for storage and distribution at refrigerator temperatures is another advantage).

One of the questions we must ask is how well can the other vaccines protect against illness or infection from the variants?.

It appears, though that the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine may be less effective against the South African variant.

For reasons like these, it is important that we have a wide array of vaccines.

In addition, the technology to adapt them to changing viral sequences.

Being able to develop new vaccines quickly is one of the advantages of gene-based technology over traditional vaccine methods.

Another is the ability to produce the vaccines in very large numbers.

How We Could Be (Unwittingly) Contributing to Mutant Variants

As we grapple with the idea of viral variants, we must ask ourselves - how do they develop? Mutation is likely a way the virus changes to adapt to a change in it's environment. The same way you or I would employ camouflage to keep from being detected by a foe. As we lockdown and employ measures like frequent handwashing to limit infection, is this how the virus is trying to survive? Well, one method by which the SARS-CoV-2 can succesfulyy achieve this is by asymptomatic persons. People who are asymptomatic may be infected and not realise it - contributing to unsuspected transmission. The persistence of the virus in people who are not unwell could facilitate their evolution to a mutant form. This is why we ALL must practice the public health measures and use Covid 19 vaccines around the world until we overcome the pandemic.

You're Up to Date - For Now...

So that's the covid 19 vaccine status for the time being - but make sure you stay tuned here because the arena is expanding every so often

From which other countries are you expecting more vaccines to develop? Let us know in the comments below, and see you again soon.

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Dr Sylvia Kama-Kieghe

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