As the world gears up for the fastest-ever developed vaccine, several drug companies have taken different routes to manufacture the antidote to the pandemic that has held the world hostage since March of this year.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, at least 1.3 million people have died as a result of and at least 59 million people have been infected with COVID-19 worldwide.
With the global economy at stake, millions working from home and, according to UNICEF, 463 million children around the world unable to access remote learning, the need for a vaccine is urgent.
Scientists around the world are developing many potential vaccines for COVID-19. These vaccines are all designed to teach the body’s immune system to safely recognize and block the virus that causes COVID-19.
Several different types of potential vaccines for COVID-19 are in development, including:
Short for ribonucleic acid, RNA is one of the crucial macromolecules – larger molecules comprising proteins, lipids and carbohydrates – for life. RNA vaccines work by introducing an mRNA sequence (the molecule which tells cells what to build) into the system which is coded for a disease-specific antigen.
Short for deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA is another of the crucial macromolecules for life. A DNA vaccine involves the direct introduction into appropriate tissues of a plasmid – a double-stranded molecule which exists in bacterial cells.
These vaccines use live viruses to carry DNA into human cells. It is one of the more effective means of gene transfer to modify specific cell types or tissue for therapeutic purposes.
This uses a part of the virus, in this case, the protein component, to create a vaccine. These vaccines can be administered to almost anyone who needs them, including people with weakened immune systems and long-term health problems because they do not harm the immune system.
This particular type of vaccine uses the part of a virus which is no longer active, but which causes the disease. These vaccines do not usually provide the same degree of immunity as a live vaccine. Booster shots at a later date may be necessary to maintain immunity.
This type of vaccine contains molecules that mimic the virus but are not infectious and, therefore, not a danger. VLP has been an effective way of creating vaccines against diseases such as human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis and malaria.