The coronavirus is introducing the world to things we’ve never seen before. A global lockdown, economic downturn, and a war of words between the two leading superpowers.
The virus itself is also something unimaginable, scientifically speaking. It’s pushing science to new frontiers and scientists are racing to catch up with it. For the coronavirus to be defeated, the vaccine and its development need to be revolutionary – something we’ve never seen before.
American pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer is leading the charge against the virus. Partnering with German drugmaker BioNTech, Pfizer is planning to expand their testing and mass-produce the vaccine by 2021.
If all goes to plan, the vaccine will be tested on thousands of test patients by September, according to CNBC. Adding on, Pfizer’s CEO and chair Albert Bourla reported that if the stars line up perfectly – those stars being the vaccine proven safe and efficient, FDA and EMA approval, and trials running smoothly – then millions of doses will be ready around October. Going down this ideal timeline, hundreds of millions of doses will be ready by 2021.
As of right now, Pfizer is testing four different variations of the vaccine, all based on mRNA. RNA vaccines have never been put on the market before, so breakthroughs need to happen as soon as possible.
These vaccines have many advantages over traditional DNA-based vaccines. According to the University of Cambridge, RNA vaccines introduce an mRNA sequence into the body, once the disease specific antigen is produced, the immune system prepares to fight the real thing. Reasons as to why an RNA vaccine is being favored over a conventional one for this virus all come down to efficiency.
Pfizer states that RNA vaccines are faster to produce, due to them being made from an already prepared DNA template in labs. Growing large quantities of virus for traditional vaccine production and testing risks protential hazards, as opposed to RNA vaccines where only small amounts of the virus are needed. The vaccines could be produced quickly, too. This is in line with the plans to have the vaccine ready by 2021.
Out of the four current vaccines being tested, one or two will be chosen to be tested further.
Despite U.S health officials estimating the arrival of a vaccine in 18-24 months, Pfizer is going all in. As of right now, vaccine testing is in phase 2, and phase 3 (many hundreds of test subjects) should be coming within the next three months. Progress is seemingly moving quickly and correctly. It looks like Pfizer is going to make their goal of beating offical American estimates, but only time can tell.
All hands are on deck, with over a hundred vaccines in development, according to the WHO, the vaccine needs to come soon. Whether it’s by Pfizer, rivals CureVac and Moderna, or another company. Pfizer is racing these companies in order to be first. Investing in new labs, employees, and resources, they’re giving it everything they’ve got.
Whether or not Pfizer will have the vaccine ready by 2021 is up to debate, but for right now all we can do is hope.