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Status of vaccine development for COVID-19

02 December 2020
Volume 25 · Issue 12

As COVID-19 continues to spread and claim lives in the UK and globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to collaborate with more than 100 candidates internationally, all of whom are working to develop the most effective and accessible vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. This global effort to produce a lifesaving vaccine has been described as a race, although it is clear now that more than one vaccine will be needed, given the number of people who will need to access it.

A handful of the candidates have produced particularly encouraging results, and orders are being placed for millions of doses of the potential vaccines by countries around the world. Vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca are receiving the most attention, although others, such as the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia, are being evaluated by the WHO in Geneva, and large-scale trials are ongoing.

The first vaccine in the world that was deemed to be effective in preventing COVID-19 was developed by Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech, showing a >90% protection rate. It was tested on 43 500 people across six countries, and a preliminary analysis showed that it can prevent more than 90% of vaccinated people from contracting COVID-19 (Gallagher, 2020a).

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