Full Frame: Coronavirus Vaccine

Full Frame

Researchers around the world are racing to find a vaccine for Covid-19.  As of the end of August, there were 172 countries working on a coronavirus vaccine, according to the World Health Organization.  More than 30 clinical trials are underway in humans.

Countries worldwide agree that a vaccine must be ready to be administered to the public as soon as possible, but there remain many questions about the availability and efficacy of these vaccines.

“One is how effective is the vaccine? We don’t know that yet. And a secondly, how durable is it? How long does it last? And then thirdly, how do we make enough doses for all the people who need it.  The logistical issues of making a billion doses of anything new  is quite extraordinary and it’s something that the medical field has never had to deal with before,” said Dr. Christopher Austin, director of the National Center for Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Austin’s agency is charged delivering therapies more quickly to the public. When it comes to vaccines, the typical timeline for research, testing and approval is at least a decade. Now, drugmakers are trying to do the same in a matter of months.

Unprecedented collaboration on a global scale is making this tight timeline more realistic. One of the drugmakers testing coronavirus vaccine in humans is U.S.-based Novavax. Early clinical trials in 56 volunteers found that participants who received the vaccine produced antibodies that neutralized the virus, without any serious side effects. The next step is to increase the number of volunteers and test against a placebo.

“That’s going to be the issue, conducting these trials, getting enough cases where you have a really statistically unassailable level of protection,” said Dr. Gregory Glenn, president of research and development for Novavax. He estimated that this stage could happen as early as December.

Why wear a face mask

The global sweep of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 may change the course of human civilization forever. Perhaps the the most obvious and widespread  visual of these unprecedented times is the face mask. 

In just a few months, mask production has soared. Once reserved for the medical profession, manufacturers have ramped up production to full capacity in order to meet the public’s demand. 

We examine the features of two of the most mainstream face masks: the N-95 and the surgical mask.