Covid-19: A race to the Cure

The race towards a cure for Covid-19 has been the objective of pharmaceutical companies worldwide. In order to understand how a vaccine which will fight Covid-19 is made, we must first understand how the Covid-19 virus operates.

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This image shows the structure of the Cover-19 virus

How Does Covid-19 infect the body?

Covid-19 looks like a ball with spikes. These spikes are called spike proteins, and they attach themselves to cell receptors in your body. This allows them access into a cell’s membrane which is where copies of the virus are made. It takes a while for your body to realize that the pathogen is detrimental to your health, and therefore you are at a disadvantage when fighting the disease. It will take time for your immune system to develop antibodies to fight the disease, and by then it is too late, you have already been infected with Covid-19. The role a vaccine plays is that it helps “prepares” the immune system, so that are body already has the necessary antibodies to fight the disease.

The Human Defence System

How are vaccines made?

            There are various methods to produce a virus. It all boils down to getting your body antiquated with a particular shape, so that antibodies can be developed. This can be done through a variety of ways. Scientists can inject part of a virus, a weakened version of the virus (attenuated), or a particular shape (protein spike attached to an inanimate object) into your body. This will allow your body to get antiquated with the shape of the virus, and will allow antibodies to be made. As a result, your body will no longer be forced to play catch-up.

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RNA Vaccines: A revolution

There has been a new development in the world of vaccines. RNA vaccines are revolutionary, and could be the new way vaccines are developed from here on out. It involves mapping genome structures and coding mRNA to instruct immune cells in your body to “mimic” a pathogen, or a certain facet of a pathogen (the spike protein in the case of Covid-19). This helps your body create antibodies to fight the virus. This is revolutionary, and could speed up the development of future vaccines. More about mRNA vaccines can be found here.

The Future of vaccinology?

The hunt for a vaccine to end this pandemic has moved at a rapid pace. Many government agencies are bypassing regulations and are reducing the time spent in testing. Should everything go right in testing, Moderna, the company at the forefront of developing an mRNA vaccine for Covid-19, should have a vaccine ready for the public in 18 months: a world record. These are revolutionary times we are living in, and history is being made.

Stay Safe-Yash Banga

Sources:

https://investors.modernatx.com/news-releases/news-release-details/moderna-announces-positive-interim-phase-1-data-its-mrna-vaccine

https://www.phgfoundation.org/briefing/rna-vaccines

https://www.nature.com/articles/nrd.2017.243

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