Researchers around the world are racing to develop a vaccine against COVID-19

Around the world, more than 140 candidate vaccines are being tracked by the World Health Organization (WHO)

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UK’s Oxford-AstraZeneca, Russia, US-based Moderna, India’s COVAXIN and Zydus Cadila, and Chinese companies including Sinovac have made significant progress

Image Source: Times Now news

How are vaccines tested?

In the pre-clinical stage of testing, researchers give the vaccine to animals to see if it triggers an immune response

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In phase 1 of clinical testing, the vaccine is given to a small group of people to determine whether it is safe and to learn more about the immune response it provokes.

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In phase 2, the vaccine is given to hundreds of people so scientists can learn more about its safety and correct dosage.

Image Source: The-Scientist

In phase 3, the vaccine is given to thousands of people to confirm its safety – including rare side effects – and effectiveness

How close are we to a vaccine?

The findings of a vaccine developed by the University of Oxford appears safe and triggers an immune response

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The vaccine is called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and is being developed at unprecedented speed

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How does the vaccine work?

It is made from a genetically engineered virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees

However, the virus has been modified so that it doesn’t cause infection in people and also to mimic the coronavirus

Image Source: WHO

Scientists did this by transferring the genetic instructions of the coronavirus’ “spike protein” – the crucial tool it uses to invade human cells – to the vaccine

This was done so that the vaccine resembles the coronavirus and the immune system can learn how to attack it

Oxford-AstraZeneca has already tied up with nine firms across the world. It has also committed to the production of 2 billion doses after the vaccine gets the approval

Image Source: Andreas Gebert / Reuters

Serum Institute of India, Pune is one of the nine partners of Oxford-AstraZeneca