The Development of the Coronavirus Vaccine

The Development of the Coronavirus Vaccine

Cate Love, Writer

 

Recently, we received some of the first good news about the growing COVID-19 pandemic. As the death toll has surpassed 1.4 million worldwide and is continuing to climb, we may be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The development of the Coronavirus vaccine began in March and recently the company Pfizer announced that their COVID-19 vaccine is 95% effective and kept 9/10 people from getting the virus. The biotechnology company, Moderna, had their vaccine shown to be just under 95% effective. These are outstanding results. They far surpass the requirement from the Food and Drug administration for vaccines to be at least 50% effective. Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said that even if the vaccine was only 75% effective he would’ve been happy. On December 11, an emergency use authorization was issued by the FDA for the Pfizer vaccine. This authorization has allowed the first shipments of the vaccine to go out. 

 

The development of this vaccine has happened at record speed and is known as “Operation Warped Speed”. The CDC says, “Operation Warp Speed’s goal is to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines with the initial doses available by January 2021”. Although it could be months before the vaccine is available widely to the public, we will see many front-line workers receive a dose by the end of 2020, and possibly high-risk individuals. One complication of the vaccine is storage, for as the doses of the vaccine must be frozen while being transported. The vaccines will then thaw upon arrival and must stay at a consistent temperature.  While the Pfizer vaccine must stay at -70°C, the Moderna vaccine is able to be kept at -20°, which could make the dispersion of the vaccine easier. Some places don’t have access to the technology needed to store the vaccines. Rural areas especially do not have access to high-tech freezers that are used to store it. 

 

Two doses of the vaccine will be needed in order for it to work properly. The second shot acts as an immunity booster and will help the vaccine last longer.  Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have not seen any serious side effects in their trials. Mild side effects consist of headache, fatigue, and muscle soreness. It is very common for vaccines to have side effects, as they show that the vaccine is working. The goal of any vaccine is for the population to reach herd immunity. Herd immunity happens when the large part of the community becomes immune to a virus. However, once the vaccine is available getting people to take it could become another task in itself. A poll conducted by Gallup in September showed that only half of Americans said they would be willing to get the vaccine. Some employers are considering making the vaccine mandatory for their employees and airlines might require a vaccine for everyone before travelling. In order to reach herd immunity a high percent of the public will need to receive the vaccine.