The novel coronavirus is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic that has stunned the global health care system. To date, the CDC reports more than 7 million COVID-19 cases and more than 200,000 associated deaths. For those who have successfully avoided the virus, there are still plenty of other challenges that have arisen during the pandemic:
- Preparing for flu season
- Keeping up with preventive care
- Avoiding COVID-19 scammers
- Talking to kids about COVID-19
While masks may mitigate the spread of COVID-19, developing a COVID-19 vaccine is an essential step in protecting Americans. However, the stages of vaccine development are complex and time-consuming.
The Stages of Vaccine Development
Like any medication, vaccines must go through a multi-step process for approval. This process is designed to safeguard patients and provide quality data on efficacy. But there’s a downside: the various stages of vaccine development may take an undetermined amount of time.
There are many stages of vaccine development. The exploratory stage aims to discover potential treatment options for a specific disease by permitting researchers to analyze medicinal compounds. If a compound is discovered, it will enter the pre-clinical stage to undergo a safety assessment.
From there, clinical development begins, and researchers begin to look at how the vaccine interacts with the human body. This stage of the research is divided into three phases:
- Phase 1: A small group of participants are given the experimental vaccine to evaluate safety.
- Phase 2: The pool of participants grows to include those who embody the population for which the vaccine is intended, testing for effectiveness and safety.
- Phase 3: Tests confirm efficacy in a much larger population and monitor side effects.
Then, the vaccine is submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for regulatory review and approval.
If the vaccine is approved, safety information must be collected through the Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System (VAERS), a program implemented by the FDA to gather information about adverse effects reported by patients and health care providers.
The Race for a COVID-19 Vaccine
As the health and economic-related consequences of COVID-19 continue to have global impact, pharmaceutical companies are working hard to generate a vaccine.
To date, more than 100 COVID-19 vaccines are in progress, and human clinical trials have begun for several of them. These trials are at varying stages, with many well-known pharmaceutical companies vying for success.
With all the research underway, we are coming closer to controlling COVID-19 and improving global health outcomes. An effective vaccine will not only protect individuals from contracting the virus but also will reduce the heavy professional and financial strains that COVID-19 has placed on health care systems across the world.
We’re All in This Together
Independence continues to monitor the situation with COVID-19. Please visit our COVID-19 website for the latest information about care and services available related to the virus.