The Vaccine of the Year Is Here

The Vaccine of the Year Is Here

Photo by McKinsey

This past year many unwanted circumstances have occurred in all of our lives, and there is one that no one will ever be able to forget COVID-19. Over 1,600,000 people across the world have died due to COVID-19 and about 250,000 people died just in the U.S. During the Korean War 37,000 Americans had lost their lives. Compared to this number, COVID-19 has taken seven times as many lives. Yet, officials say that the pandemic is just entering ‘its deadliest phase.’ Firstly, let’s get to know more about COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV2. A disease like COVID-19 has not been seen before. COVID-19 is transmitted from person to person by close-contact with any infected patients, respiratory droplets, and fecal-oral contact. Studies have shown that airborne transmissions are severely virulent, hence resulting in the fast-spread of the disease. This is the reason why we have adopted the mitigation strategies of wearing a mask and social distancing. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after you have been infected with the virus. Most people who are infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic. People who are asymptomatic can infect others but have less severe outcomes. However, symptomatic people are more prone to getting severe symptoms eventually leading to death. Some common symptoms include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle/body aches, headaches, loss of taste and smell, sore throat, congestion, nausea, vomiting, runny nose, or diarrhea. Some ways to prevent the infection of COVID-19 include washing hands, avoiding close-contact, covering the nose and mouth with a mask, and cleaning surfaces regularly. 

COVID-19 started in mainland China reportedly in the city of Wuhan on February 26th. The World Health Organization, WHO, declared COVID-19 as a worldwide pandemic on March 11th, 2020, due to the fast-spreading of the disease. The root cause of COVID-19 is unknown but some say that it could have started in the Huanan South China Seafood Market considering the fact that many of the early patients used to work at this seafood market. Reports show that a bat could have been the source of origin because the genome identity between SARS-CoV2 and another form of coronavirus called Bat-CoV-RaTG13 were 96% similar. The bat species that were a source of the Bat-CoV-RaTG13 lived 2000 km away from Wuhan. 2000 km might seem like a long-distance though bats are often known to travel large distances. However, this speculation was soon out of consideration because human to human transmission became more evident on January 22, 2020. After the first declaration of Covid-19 as a pandemic, the disease has spread rapidly around the world. 

Now onto the vaccines for COVID. The first vaccine to be tried clinically is ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. This vaccine was developed at the University of Oxford Jenner Institute. On April 23, 2020, approximately 1100 people volunteered to take part in the trials. Another vaccine that was tried was the mRNA-1273 developed by the company Moderna. This vaccine was clinically proven to generate immune responses similar to those found in persons who recovered from the virus. Though this vaccine was a success clinically, in the human trials the vaccine was not that successful. There have been many vaccines that have been tested for the cure of COVID-19 but none of them were effective. Though, recently a vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech was approved and is now released to the public as a cure for COVID-19. This vaccine has not been approved by the FDA but the FDA has authorized the emergency use of this vaccine. The vaccine is only to be given to persons above the age of 16. The vaccine will be given in 2 doses and each dose will be 3 weeks apart. Alongside Pzifer, Moderna is also a pharmaceutical company that has a vaccine ready to be authorized. 

The distribution of vaccines is complex but important to be considered. The federal government has made an alliance with McKesson Corp. as a centralized distributor for the vaccine, though, Pfizer has its own distribution network. The federal government has also come together with Walgreens, CVS, and other pharmacies to vaccinate the staff and residents of long-term care facilities. The U.S. is getting approximately 6.4 million doses of the vaccine and about 2.4 million doses were shipped within 24 hours. Federal officials have predicted that if the distribution works as planned and Moderna’s vaccine is authorized then by January almost 30 million Americans will be vaccinated and about 50 million in February. Pzifer expects to produce 1.2 billion doses in the upcoming year and Moderna is expected to produce about 1 billion doses. 

The vaccines will be first given to those working in health-care and residents of long-term care facilities. Following this, the CDC will consider giving the vaccines to essential workers like teachers, police, food workers, and adults who are above the age of 65. Though, there are many debates as to which state gets how many doses, officials say that they plan to distribute the vaccine according to the states’ adult population. 

Despite the complexities in the distribution of the vaccine, the vaccine is finally here. This is a huge breakthrough because this vaccine is the fastest-made vaccine in the world. It took about 8 months to develop the vaccine. This vaccine will be an important step towards eliminating COVID-19.