Coronavirus came and took everyone under its influence. Whether an individual suffered from it or not, the fear, anxiety, and the severity associated with these diseases had already made it crystal clear from Day 1 that the Coronavirus is no joke.
It is not that the Coronavirus is an alien virus that suddenly came out of the blue and started infecting people, this virus was very much present in our society, but in such a low profile that nobody was bothered by it.
It was not until 2019, when this virus emerged in increasing numbers from Wuhan, China that people started taking it seriously. Since this was a virus that never alarmed people with such intensity before, therefore, not much research and studies had been conducted on it to learn more about its nature.
The wave of Coronavirus took an ugly turn, and soon, this virus turned into a pandemic disease that is still haunting many countries throughout the world. Some countries, including China, the United States of America, Korea, Italy, etc. were affected in the worst possible ways possible, whereas other countries like Australia, were not affected by its disastrous impact in that much severity.
Whatever the future is yet to bring our way - we could only hope that a successful and promising vaccine is launched soon, so that this deadly virus could be controlled before the winter season starts settling in, further accelerating the ability to catch this virus from all over the world.
A viral disease that closely resembles the common cold and flu, yet sports much deadlier complications and consequences have already made the scientists and researchers from all over the world gather around and get united for one single cause - the development of an effective vaccine that helps them effectively put the looming virus to an end.
Here, we have collected a brief yet comprehensive review of whatsoever progress or achievements have been accomplished so far on the COVID-19 vaccine.
Let us have a look at it.
Vaccine Trials: How Many Are Underway, And How Do They Differ From Each other?
There is no doubt about the fact that scientists and researchers are constantly working hard to discover such an effective vaccine against the SARS-COV-2. It is estimated that the rate by which they are working, successfully tried and tested, could be easily rolled out into the markets within the next 12-18 months.
So far, about 46 vaccines are under trial phases. Many amongst these are just in the process of their early research, and nothing could be said about their validity.
However, several of these 46 vaccines have successfully entered their Phases II and III, respectively.
These vaccines differ from each other in terms of their individual mechanisms and sponsors. A concise list is given below, with Asian countries being highlighted:
There are several unnamed vaccines too, and adding them up makes it to round 150+ vaccines undergoing trials at this time. The World Health Organization (WHO) is also continuously investing and funding in the global efforts to develop a vaccine to eliminate or reduce the transmission of disease. WHO hopes to have at least 2 billion doses developed and ready for use by the end of 2021.
The Specific Role of Asian Pharmaceutical Companies in Trialling Testing of COVID-19 Vaccines
If we observe the present situation, there is no single available vaccine or drug alone that could help us in preventing this disease. However, ever since the COVID-19’s viral genome was released in January 2020, a great number of pharmaceutical companies, both major setups, and small start-ups are on the search for discovering an effective antigen that would put an end to this ever-growing disease, once and for all.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is closely observing the situation, and has not to date, passed an “Okay” signal to any of the clinical trials or drugs brought into existence.
But still, the role of all the pharmaceutical companies is commendable and appreciable for their untiring efforts in discovering a drug against the Coronavirus.
Here, I am highlighting some Asian pharmaceutical companies that have untiringly been putting in their efforts for this cause:
Pfizer Inc. is recognized as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. In March 2020, Pfizer Inc. joined hands with BioNTech Se for the production of their mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, which is given the name of “BNT-162”.
GSK has been popular for producing several effective vaccines, like those for HIV and the seasonal flu. During February 2020, GSK announced open and unchartered access to its vaccine adjuvant platform to the Queensland University and to Clover Biopharmaceuticals Inc., both of which are utilizing it for conducting trials on their joint COVID-19 venture, “S-Trimer”.
Gilead Sciences was one of the very first companies to launch a successful trial for Remedisvir. When this antiviral drug showed promising results, Gilead further extended its services and began taking part in two late-stage trials in China, two late-stage trials in Asia, and one specific trial limited to health authorities in the USA.
From January 2020, ever since the viral genome was announced, Inovio has succeeded in building an initial candidate, “INO-4800”, and has declared that it has successfully passed its Phase I testing trial. This in itself is a remarkable achievement for Inovio.
Along with these pharmaceutical companies, several others are constantly running trials and are hoping to contribute to this cause.
Role of Governments in Supporting Commercial Efforts
Coronavirus is that cause which has united everyone on one common front: an attempt to eliminate it.
All the governments are equally concerned about this cause and want to come up with a final strategy to put an end to it, once and for all. The Asian-Pacific governments are especially playing their parts in contributing to this historical cause.
It is because these countries have the expertise and trained individuals that are required for a breakthrough discovery in the vaccine department.
According to a confirmed source, amongst all the confirmed vaccine trials being run at present, 36 (46%) are from North America, 14 (18%) in China, 14 (18%) from various other parts of Asia and Australia, and the remaining 14 (18%) in Europe.
And from these statistics, it is obvious that the Asian-Pacific governments are doing their best to support their pharmaceutical companies and their leadership to accelerate the process of vaccine development. They are not only providing them with the required funding but also with platforms and the workspace to carry out their work.
Involvement of Politics During the Development of Vaccine
Politics is that evil that does not seem to leave anything alone. Here too, in the development of a vaccine for Coronavirus, politics seems to be hovering right over our heads.
The US, under influence of Trump, seems to see the development of a potential vaccine as a political bet. Whereas, in other regions of the world including the Asia-Pacific region, the investment in biomedical research and development was increased by a solid figure of 23.8% from 18.2%.
This indicates the interest of the political organizations in the development of a vaccine, everyone seems to be interested in winning this race.
China’s Role In Vaccine Development: Are The Looming Controversies Nothing But The Truth?
Although the Coronavirus pandemic originated from China, even then China did not give up. It kept on trying and working hard to defeat this virus, and was indeed successful in its attempt.
China is aware that the development of a vaccine is for the whole of mankind, and is not to be limited to just its own people.
Therefore, China was observed to be playing its part in collaborating with the other countries and extending whatever help it could to help the other nations in conducting their respective trials for the development of a vaccine.
Currently, three nations are seen to be leading the race of the development of a vaccine: the US, the UK, and China. Seeing China progress here too, the West started playing its tricks and propaganda against China, and some media agencies from the UK and US published news regarding ‘China stealing our Research’.
But when investigations and a proper inquiry was set to play on this matter, it was revealed that these accusations were based on nothing but false propaganda, and in an attempt to bad-mouth China.
These nations need to realize that this is no race, and we should, for once, stay united for this cause and work together and in collaboration to develop a vaccine, and get out of this pandemic once and for all.
Speculations: What Would Life Look After A COVID-19 Vaccine Is Successfully Developed?
Because the COVID-19 virus was an ‘era’ that jolted everything and turned it around, it would be wise to not expect everything to go completely back to normal even after a vaccine has been developed and successfully yielded the desired results. There is no surprise in the fact that people are anxiously waiting for a vaccine to get developed so that they could go back to their normal lives as soon as possible. But, is it that easy? What does the future hold for us? Let us have a look into what the experts have to say about this.
Mask Culture: The New Normal
According to Hilary Godwin, the Dean of the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, she expects to see people in the USA practicing the usage of wearing masks for a long time throughout the next year. She further adds that this would become a social and cultural norm, and people would finally get used to wearing it as a necessity.
Unknown Efficacy and Effectiveness of the Vaccine
Even after a vaccine has been formulated and circulated throughout the world, there would be no surety about its effectiveness. Aparna Kumar, a nurse-scientist at Thomas Jefferson University states that ‘Even though flu vaccines are effective, there is a 40-60% chance of them suiting everyone. Half of the people are still bound to get ill, vaccine, or no vaccine’. This puts us in a state of a dilemma - where we cannot predict for sure whether the vaccine would be an instant success, or would take its time to show its effects on people throughout the world.
Remote Work Preference
Unlike the old times, where business trips and International conferences were an annual ‘thing’, there should be no doubt about the fact that both employees and businessmen would prefer remotely conducting such workshops. Traveling would still pose a risk for contracting the virus, even after a vaccine has been developed.
Health Care System Would Be More Prepared To Deal With Future Disasters and Pandemics
After dealing with such an overwhelming pandemic situation, we are undoubtedly more prepared than ever to deal with future outbreaks or disasters of this severity. Owing to the Coronavirus, we now have disaster management centers and isolation centers which could again be reactivated in case such an outbreak or disease erupts.
Problems With The Distribution of The Vaccine
Different vaccines are manufactured and supplied to different areas of the world all the time, but this time, with a new vaccine, there would be obvious challenges that we are going to face with the distribution and manufacturing of a totally new and unexplored vaccine on a large scale. Tony Mood, a physician-scientist at the Duke University expresses his concern, ‘How can we manufacture enough doses and then distribute them promptly? Even if we are able to do so, will we get enough vials to collect the vaccine?’
These challenges, even though unseen at this time, should be prepared for beforehand, because once the time comes, the world would be put in a sudden state of frenzy. Every state would want themselves to be the first ones to lay their hands on this vaccine, and this would further complicate things. But whatever happens, we should all hope for the best at this time, and just keep on hoping that this vaccine gets developed before things take a turn for the worse for a second time! We have faced enough losses, both economical and familial, that to recover from yet another wave of this virus would be totally lethal for all of us.
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