In the upcoming weeks, around 300 people from the UK will get the new coronavirus vaccine. In Africa, the first participation in a COVID-19 vaccine trial started Wednesday.
As scientists and doctors around the world grapple the deadly coronavirus, the first ray of hope we saw in months is news of new coronavirus vaccine being tested on humans.
We all know if we don’t get a vaccine soon, we might have to go by social distancing for years. Fortunately, scientists around the world are making good progress.
Prof Robin Shattock and his colleagues at Imperial College London have announced that around 300 people will have the vaccine over the coming weeks. They have already tested the vaccine on animals, which suggests the vaccine is safe and triggers an effective immune response.
Other than this, experts at Oxford University have already started human trials. The trials are among many across the world - there are around 120 vaccine programs underway.
A large-scale trial of the vaccine developed at the University of Oxford is being conducted in South Africa, Britain, and Brazil. South Africa currently has nearly one-third of Africa’s confirmed cases with more than 106,000, including more than 2,100 deaths. The country late Tuesday reported its biggest one-day death toll of 111.
The best part of all of this is how open-heartedly people are volunteering for human trials. It’s not like they are not scared; they are. However, their urge to help humanity as a whole is larger than their fear.
Kathy, a 39-year-old finance officer, is one of the first volunteers. According to her, the main reason behind her decision to volunteer was because she wanted to play a part in fighting the virus. She said,
“I think it came from not really knowing what I could do to help, and this turned out to be something that I could do and understanding that it’s not likely that things will get back to normal until there is a vaccine, so wanting to be part of that progress as well.”
Another vaccine trial volunteer, Junior Mhlongo from Johannesburg, said,
“I feel a little bit scared, but I want to know what is going on with this vaccine so that I can tell my friends and others what is going on with the study.”
Where the pandemic has been controlled in some places, for now, it is picking up speed in regions where social distancing SOPs cannot be followed rigorously and where shortages of testing materials and medical supplies remain a problem.
To tackle the issue, scientists at Imperial College have come up with a new technique that uses synthetic strands of genetic code, called RNA, which mimic the virus instead of using a weakened or modified form of the virus. One the RNA is injected into the muscle, it amplifies and generates copies of itself. Since only a tiny amount of genetic code is used in the Imperial vaccine, a little goes a very long way. The Imperial team says one liter of its synthetic material will be enough to produce two million doses.