Years of research laid groundwork for speedy COVID-19 vaccine

Years of research laid groundwork for speedy COVID-19 vaccine
Source: AP
2 Min Read

Daily US Times: How could scientists race out coronavirus vaccines so fast without cutting corners? Over a decade of behind-the-scenes research helped a lot to achieve the goal, experts say.

But long before the coronavirus pandemic was on the radar, the groundwork was laid in large part by two different streams of research, one at the University of Pennsylvania and the other at the NIH — and because scientists had learned a bit about other coronaviruses from prior MERS and SARS outbreaks.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, told AP: “The speed is a reflection of years of work that went before. That’s what the public has to understand.”

Creating vaccines and having results from rigorous studies and trial less than a year after the world discovered a never-before-seen virus infected disease is incredible, cutting years off normal development. But the two US frontrunners are made in a way that promises speedier development may become the norm — especially if they prove to work long-term as well as early testing suggests.

“Abject giddiness,” is how Dr. C. Buddy Creech, a Vanderbilt University vaccine expert, described scientists’ reactions when separate studies showed the two Covid-19 vaccine candidates were about 95% effective.

At a briefing of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Creech said: “I think we enter into a golden age of vaccinology by having these types of new technologies.”

Both shots — one made by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health and other by Pfizer and BioNTech, — are so-called messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines, a brand-new technology. Regulators in the US are set to decide this month whether to allow emergency use of the vaccines, paving the way for rationed shots that will start with health workers and nursing home residents.

Billions in government and company funding certainly sped up vaccine development — and the unfortunately huge number of infections meant scientists didn’t have to wait long to learn the shots appeared to be working.

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