The Representative

India's Youth News Tank

The run for a vaccine against coronavirus

6 min read

We are living in a world where chasing money and dreams is a forgotten period. We are now chasing medicines and cure for the coronavirus. Since its inception in December in Wuhan, scientists all over china started to find a cure for the virus which was on the verge of creating an epidemic in China back then.

The virology institute of Wuhan is said to be the creator of this virus as a bioweapon and majority of the nations are looking up to the institute itself to find a cure. Brazil minister even suggested that covid-19 is a part of China’s ‘Plan for World Domination’. It is perplexing to see that China from where the disease began is now the most sorted nation in the world. It is a mystery to see how the number of cases drastically reduced in China and there is no such thing called as a ‘lock down’ in China as they are continuing to live their everyday lives.

The race to find a vaccine for corona is being fought all over the world. Right from the scientists in Harvard to individual scientists in lab are trying to seek a cure. Amazingly, India has partially found out a medicine that can help to an extent for curbing the disease through ‘hydroxychoroquine’ which is an anti-malarial drug. Innovation and technology are not everything. What can save the human race from extinction is what is truly known as innovation. India is the only country which produces 70% of this drug.

All other nations including the most powerful nation had to request India for the supply. However, the race doesn’t end here. A conflicting case rose when Donald Trump announced that they got FDI approval for producing the medicine in their country. Trump indeed did a retaliation.

The push to make a coronavirus vaccine is moving at neck breaking speed. There are chemicals found out in lab which can be the potential cure. But the clinical trial will take a prolonged period of time for the vaccine to come into the market. Volunteers in Seattle, Washington, have received a vaccine in a phase I safety trial sponsored by the US government. The sponsorship to produce the vaccination is immensely important. It costs a million of dollars to bring in the equipment and conduct the trials.

Recently Johnson and Johnson have been the most active pharmaceutical company which is trying day in and day out to find the cure. It recently told in press that by 2021 they will produce 600-800 million coronavirus vaccine. For the same, J&J and the federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority announced a $1 billion investment last month to help achieve the goal. J&J is also planning on to set up a new manufacturing plant in the US to supplement the company’s production in the Netherlands that can ramp up the production capacity up to 300 million doses. The stateside factory will be up and running later in 2020 or by early 2021. This proves that J&J have managed to find out the right cure but the only thing that remains a barrier is its mass production.

Coming to India, a land of Ayurveda and pureness, another frontrunner in this race which is trying its best is Mylab. It has become the first start up to develop an indigenous Covid-19 testing kit. To ramp up the testing, Mylab is looking on to expand its production for testing 20 lakh samples in a week. For the same, it has received immense support from investors as well. MyLab has secured Rs 1 Crore from the Action Covid-19 Team (ACT) grants with the group of founders, investors, and venture capitals who are also helping the company solve supply-chain issues. Also, Serum India’s CEO Adar Poonawalla and AP Globale Chairman Abhijit Pawar have backed the company to scale the manufacturing of test kits. MyLab said that it is automating the plant production and processes with the recently received grants and funds. The world indeed is working hard to test, diagnose and cure the virus.

Another Indian player is Redcliffe which has partnered with BSIP Lucknow to conduct tests using its expertise. Redcliffe life sciences is looking at genome sequencing tests to combat the COVID-19 spread. If you remember, the composition of human and its DNA was also first found out by genome sequencing. Using that till date, scientists produce various medicines which are available in the market today. Much to your surprise, the genome sequence of virus has been first decoded in India by National Institute of Virology in Pune and Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre, which was second in India to decode and identify the virus’s 3 new mutations.

The virus mutates in order to adapt to every climatic condition to survive. So far 9 mutations in total have been found out of the coronavirus. Mutations is one of the reasons why scientists all over the world are struggling with the right vaccine. The sequence results have been shared in other scientific communities for further research. Positive test samples were used to decode the sequence. A fact will which take you aback is that the first genome sequence of the COVID-19 virus was found by Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Bejing on January 10. This news raises a lot of conflicting questions on China.

If China knew about this deadly virus and its contagious spread, why didn’t it inform WHO from the start and announce a warning to the world? This fact also proves that China was aware of the very first death in Wuhan and ever since then they started working on the virus without letting the world know about it.

It takes approximately five to six months for the first supplies of approved vaccine to become available once a new strain of virus with pandemic potential is identified and isolated. If China would have made the world aware, till now many nations would have been in safe hands. China having taken the action from day one, is now on the verge of recovery. Coronaviruses have caused two other recent epidemics as well which include, severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) in China in 2002-04, and Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers), which started in Saudi Arabia in 2012. In both cases, work began on vaccines that were later shelved when the outbreaks were contained. SARS-CoV-2 shares between 80% and 90% of its genetic material with the virus that caused SARS hence the name.

Influenza which caused a pandemic in 1930s was curbed with a vaccination in 1954. Ebola which came into existence in 2014, it took two and a half years to curb it. The disease didn’t have any specific vaccine as the virus could mutate and remerge. However, the first vaccine to be approved in the United States was “rVSV-ZEBOV” in December 2019 for Ebola. According to this data, Influenza took nearly 15 years for a strong vaccine to come into existence which we use it till date to cure “viral infections”.

Ebola virus’s vaccination was developed after 5 years. Hopefully, the coronavirus’s vaccine should be developed within two years. The path is still unclear and blurred, but scientists all over the world including India especially, are doing a great job in conducting daily clinical and animal trials. Along with this, investors are trying their best to support the production and trials. We hope that scientists successfully launch a world cure for the coronavirus. Meanwhile we should do our bit of contribution in curbing this virus by staying at home.

An Article by Radhika bajoria

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