How Soon Can We Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

The question to ask is whether the vaccine will be effective and safe

Created by the author using public domain images from CDC and Unsplash
Image from FDA website

New technologies being used to deliver genetic materials to cells

  1. RNA vaccines contain a strip of genetic material within a fat bubble of the coronavirus. Once inside the cell, the RNA generates a protein found on the surface of the virus. The immune system, presented with the protein, learns to recognize the virus. These vaccines can be quickly designed and manufactured. However, no such vaccine has so far been approved for use outside of medical research.
  2. Viral-vectored vaccines use a virus that has been engineered to be harmless to carry a gene from the coronavirus into human cells and the immune system learns to recognize this coronavirus gene. Viral-vectored vaccines can be designed quickly. Booster shots may have to be given if people develop immunity to the viral vector.
  3. Weakened or inactivated virus vaccines employ an old-fashioned approach used in the earlier development of vaccines for polio, measles, mumps, and rubella. The virus is weakened so that it does not cause disease, but still triggers the immune system’s defenses. These vaccines typically take longer to manufacture.
  4. Subunit vaccines The companies that employ this technology use insect cells and yeast to produce the protein fragments. For example, the hepatitis B vaccine relies on a viral protein created by genetically engineered yeast.

A cautionary public health tale from 1976

FDA Guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine approval

Who will receive the vaccine when approved and in what order?



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Dr. Zach Zachariah

Ph.D. chemist with an M.B.A. | Enrolled Agent | Writes on science | economy | taxes | public interest topics | American politics | Indian-Americans | COVID-19