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Vaccine Development – In the Fight Against Covid-19

Vaccine Development – In the Fight Against Covid-19

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-3-  Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life


A vaccine could be a weakened biological or synthetic agent administered to humans that will protect them from contracting infectious diseases by supplying specific antibodies to neutralise the disease-causing pathogen, while not making a person actually sick from it.

Surge in vaccine development:

  • In the last two decades new infectious diseases are emerging.
  • Particularly post the H1N1 influenza, global vaccine development activity has been rather energetic.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has naturally seen renewed efforts at arapid vaccine development, and multiple candidates are at various levels of processing and in the trial stages.

COVID – a new challenge:

COVID is a new challenge in the form of a virus that has just emerged in humans, and the response will be more complex because there are no existing vaccines or production processes for coronavirus vaccines.

Vaccine trials as of now:

The World Health Organization (WHO) site lists 10 vaccine candidates in clinical evaluation and 126 candidate vaccines in pre-clinical evaluation, as on June 9.

Stages and processes:

The general stages of the development cycle of a vaccine are,


Clinical development is a three-phase process.


Created by : Kingmakers R&D

  • If a vaccine is approved by a licensing agency, then it can move into the manufacturing stage, but constant monitoring of the process and quality control measures must be put in place.
  • Vaccine production should comply with the current Good Manufacturing Practice standardsto ensure constant quality and safety of vaccine.

Current progress:

  • Primary advantage with SARS-CoV-2 was that it was identified in record time, and its genomic sequencewas made globally available by January.
  • In both SARS-CoV-1 and the related MERS-CoV vaccines that the S proteinon the surface of the virus is an ideal target for a vaccine.
  • The structure of the S protein of SARS-CoV-2was solved in record time at high resolution, contributing to our understanding of this vaccine target.

Vaccine candidates:

Vaccine candidates are being generated.

This is usually followed by two important steps that are typically needed before bringing a vaccine into clinical trials.

  1. First, the vaccine is tested in appropriate animal models to see whether it is protective. However, animal models for SARS-CoV-2might be difficult to develop. Even in the absence of an animal model, it is possible to evaluate the vaccine because serum from vaccinated animals can be tested in in vitro neutralisation assays.
  2. Second, vaccines need to be tested for toxicity in animals, e.g., in rabbits. This testing, which has to be performed in a manner compliant with GLP (Good Laboratory Practice),typically takes 3–6 months to complete.”

What next:

  • The development of vaccines for human use takes years normally.
  • Many additional steps are needed before these vaccine candidates that have shown promise can be used in the population, and this process might take months.
  • Because no coronavirus vaccines are on the market and no large-scale manufacturingcapacity for these vaccines exists as yet.

Road ahead:

  • Experts say some of the other concerns for the development of an effective vaccine are the prospect of the virus mutating, and a waning of the antibody response.
  • It is known that infection with human coronaviruses does not always produce long-lived antibody responses, and re-infection, likely to be mild [symptoms] in a fraction of individuals, is possible after an extended period of time.
  • Any effective vaccine must overcome all these issues in order to ensure protection against a virus.
  • However, current projectionsindicate that the virus is likely to become endemic and cause recurrent seasonal epidemics.
  • In such a scenario, a vaccine will be the most effective toolto battle a virus the world is yet to fully understand.

 Source:” The Hindu“.


With the advent of COVID-19 vaccine development has got a boost, however, maintaining good manufacturing practice standards is essential. Discuss the issues involved in creating and rolling out a vaccine successfully.