History of Vaccines: What This Means For Coronavirus

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Edward Jenner

Vaccines vs. Inoculations

At this time, smallpox inoculation was not new and was a standard practice, having come to England some 68 years earlier from Constantinople. Variolation, one popular form of the practice, had a serious downside. Variolation involved taking material from another person already infected with smallpox and transferring that to the patient in the hopes of producing a mild infection and an immune response.

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Cotton Mather
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Smallpox vaccine

Vaccines’ Benefits

Vaccination had the benefit of not infecting others beyond the immediate subject because it was made from the weaker cowpox. Edward Jenner first used it in 1796. In 1967 a global effort of higher vaccine production and needle technology advancements led to the eventual elimination of smallpox in 1979, according to the World Health Organization (WHO.)

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Louis Pasteur

Vaccines’ Development

Vaccines typically take 10–12 years to develop and sometimes as long as 20 years to perfect. A vaccine is rarely developed in less than five years. With a tip of the hat to Star Trek‘s faster-than-light travel, Operation Warp Speed is an American government program that has funded billions of dollars for medical research to develop and manufacture a vaccine for the Coronavirus pandemic.

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  • Phase II expands the population to people who have characteristics such as age and physical health similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended, i.e., groups at risk. This phase tests the vaccine’s safety, immunogenicity, proposed doses, immunizations schedule, and delivery method. The candidate vaccine and placebo are deployed in a “double-blind” manner: the subjects don’t know which they are receiving.
  • Phase III involves 10s to 100s of thousands of people (typically 30,000) who test the vaccine for efficacy and safety, studying control groups with placebos, and any adverse effects or rare side effects of the vaccine. Typically, a minimum of 40 days after the booster (second) shot is required for testing efficacy and side effects. There may also be a period of peer reviews of the study.

Vaccines for COVID-19

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating vaccines in the US, including manufacturing and quality control tests for release. This includes the vaccine’s safety and ability to elicit a protective immune response in animal testing, in addition to proposed clinical protocols for studies in humans. Earlier this year, the FDA issued guidance, adding 60 days of testing safety data for Coronavirus trials, before approval. That is yet to be determined. Why?

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When will we have a COVID-19 vaccine to deploy?

Silicon Valley Tech Exec: Cloud, Data Storage, Automation. Author of fascinating articles about history, tech trends, andpop culture. Blog: http://billpetro.com

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