Almost all the world is putting their efforts into finding the vaccine for immunity against COVID-19.
We are getting closer to the end of 2020, and the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is still one of the biggest threats for the human race. And vaccine researches are accordingly accelerated against the pandemic affecting all areas of life from the economy to our social lives. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, as well as government agencies, have allocated significant budgets to control the virus.
Under normal conditions, a couple of years of extensive research is needed to find a vaccine for a disease. However, when China announced the DNA sequence of COVID-19, clinical trials were accelerated. And the striking similarity between the genetics of COVID-19 and SARS allows benefiting from the previous studies.
The Actual Protection Rate of Vaccines Depend on the Phase-3 Results
According to the WHO, it is not clear yet which vaccine candidate will be effective. The protection rate of any candidate will be determined according to the phase 3 results. And again, according to the WHO, the first doses are expected to be ready for use in mid-2021.
A US-based drug company developed a vaccine candidate after joint research with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. By the end of July, phase 3 clinical trials were started for mRNA-1273, the candidate. It was the first potential vaccine tested on humans. The results of the trials conducted at 40 different centres in the USA are expected by early 2021.
And Oxford University, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, conducts intensive researches for the vaccine. The vaccine candidate they have developed are tried for phase 3 in several countries. The aim is to artificially create the spike protein, which allows COVID-19 to hold on to the cells and immunise the body against the real virus with the production of protective antibodies.
A Turkish Vaccine Candidate in Germany
Established by the Turkish scientists Prof. Dr. Uğur Şahin in Germany, BioNTech takes important steps towards the vaccine. The vaccine called BNT162b1 is now among the vaccines that are being tested for phase 3. Introduced in four different formulas, the b1 and b2 versions of the vaccine candidate started to be tested on humans. The RNA-based vaccine aims to stimulate the blood sugar enzymes that inactive the virus and receptor-binding immunoglobulin G antibodies, thus increasing the CD4+ and CD8+ glycoproteins that can create an immune response in the cells.
In China, where COVID-19 first appeared, clinical trials of 9 different vaccine candidates are ongoing. Public drug companies carry out joint activities with institutions such as the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Wuhan Institute of Virology, and Beijing Institute of Biological Products.
WHO is Careful with the Vaccine Announcement of Russia
Russia was another country that announced a vaccine development against the virus. Sputnik V, the vaccine candidate developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, started to be tested on humans. President Vladimir Putin announced in August that the vaccine candidate was registered as a “vaccine” after the favourable results of the early clinical trials and will start to be used. However, WHO stated that Russia’s claims of finding the vaccine may compromise public health and recommended a careful attitude.
Belgium is another country that conducts intensive research for the vaccine. A drug company from Belgium announced that they were in phase 3 for a vaccine candidate they call Ad26COVS1. Composed of a single virus component, the vaccine candidate revives antibodies in the body that inactivate the virus. Apart from the countries that we have mentioned above, clinical trials for vaccine candidates continue in many other countries such as India, Japan, Singapore, Australia, France, Cuba, and Italy.
Where Is Turkey in Vaccine Research?
T.R. Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca announced on September 17, 2020 that the vaccine candidate developed by the Chinese company Sinovac has begun to be tested on three volunteer healthcare workers at Hacettepe University. Coronavac was the first potential COVID-19 vaccine tested on humans in Turkey. The Minister gave the good news in early October that three domestic vaccine research was started to be tested for phase 3. And the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated his wishes for the immediate production of the vaccines after the news.