COVID-19 vaccines in development


Jess Oakley, Reporter

As of Oct. 17 when I am writing this article, there are 46 vaccines in clinical trials and upwards of 91 vaccines in pre-clinical trials across the globe. While the whole world has been negatively affected by this pandemic, those in positions of biomedical research and development maintain a unique relationship with the virus. Without the virus we would not be put in such a novel experience of trying to quickly synthesize and find a vaccine to reduce the spread and infection rate. In the past, vaccines have taken up to two decades to closely study and research. In the new world that we are living in, we don’t seem to have that amount of time to wait for a patent or to research the vaccine in the general public. At this point in time, we are racing against the virus to try to save the lives of as many people as possible. While this virus is one of the most heartbreaking things to happen to us as humans, it may also reveal some interesting things and actually help the efficiency of developing different measures to cut down on infection rates of other diseases as well. 

As different countries and companies try to find a vaccine to quickly help the body fight off the virus, there is also a new boom in the variety of vaccine methods used. In the past, the most common vaccine type is a segment of the virus being cultured and injected into the recipient’s arm. This is how the flu vaccine works. Biochemists have to work hard to determine which strain of the flu will be most common in any given flu season, which is why sometimes you can get the vaccine and still catch the virus. Viruses have a very quick mutation rate, which is why they are so dangerous. 

Among the new types of vaccines being tested are mRNA, which uses the mitochondrial dna in our cells to produce antibodies to fight against the virus, gene therapy treatments, which are based on the techniques developed by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Hospital,  Massachusetts General Hospital and the Gene Therapy program at the University of Pennsylvania. This vaccine is built to deliver segments of the coronavirus genes to the cell. The University of Pittsburgh is developing a vaccine that is delivered via skin patch. The patch is tipped with 400 tiny needles made of sugar, that when placed on the skin dissolve and deliver virus proteins to the body. 

Even the most fully developed vaccine is still only in testing. Until we have a proven method of prevention, do what you can to keep yourself and others safe. The CDC still recommends wearing masks in public, social distance up to 6 feet, washing your hands frequently and getting the flu vaccine for this flu season. It is your responsibility to do what you can to slow the spread of the disease. 

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