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Coronavirus outbreak: Preventive vaccine ready for pre-clinical trials

Efforts to find a coronavirus vaccine have already started globally

February 18, 2020 / 11:10 AM IST
Coronavirus (Representative Image: Reuters)

Coronavirus (Representative Image: Reuters)


Pune-based Serum Institute of India and American biotech firm Codagenix have developed a preventive vaccine against the coronavirus (COVID-19), which is ready for pre-clinical trials and may even progress to human trials in six months, The Times of India reported.

A collaborative effort, the candidate vaccine was made using synthetic lab-made coronavirus. While global efforts are also on, this is a breakthrough as it significantly reduces the time taken to develop a vaccine for use.

Adar Poonawalla, the owner and CEO of SII, said it would take seven to eight years to develop a vaccine for use by conventional methods.

"We have already marched ahead by generating a candidate vaccine in the laboratory of our US-based partner Codagenix. Our vaccine-virus strain is identical to the original virus and can generate a robust immune response," he told the paper.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The death toll in China has climbed to 1,868, and the total confirmed cases jumped to 72,436 on February 18, National Health Commission officials said.

Of the 98 new deaths, 93 were reported from Hubei Province — the epicentre of the virus. The province also reported 1,807 new confirmed cases, taking the total number of such cases to 59,989 in the province. Another 1,432 new suspected cases were reported from the rest of China, they added.

Top World Health Organisation (WHO) experts, including those from the US, have joined the fight against COVID-19.

"The foreign experts on board the China-WHO Joint Mission have arrived in Beijing. They have started relevant activities. We have experts from the US on the mission," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told the media.

NHC said China had stepped up efforts to shore up weak spots as the epidemic prevention and control had entered the most crucial stage.

Nine temporary hospitals with more than 6,960 beds have opened in Hubei. As of February 14, a total of 217 medical teams with 25,633 medical workers had been sent to Hubei, the Xinhua report said.
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