What is it about?

To battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, scientists rushed to come up with vaccines against the virus that causes the disease. In fact, they managed to develop vaccines within just a year after the pandemic. But, this has raised some questions. How did we develop the vaccines so fast? Are they safe? Can we develop vaccines for other diseases as quickly? This article aims to answer some of these questions. The article answers the first question by pointing out that research on COVID-19 did not begin in 2020. In fact, it began 18 years ago with basic research on the spike protein of coronaviruses. It goes on to then talk about how vaccine development works. As for the safety of vaccines against COVID-19, the platforms used for the COVID-19 vaccine have been developed and tested in humans long before the pandemic. So far, all such platforms have an excellent safety record. The mRNA platform used for mRNA vaccines was developed at first as a cancer vaccine. This makes the COVID-19 vaccine safe even for cancer patients with weak immunity. In fact, the article suggests that cancer patients should be among the first to receive this vaccine, along with frontline workers. To answer the third question, the article explains that it was the urgency of the pandemic that made the medical research community rise to the occasion. In addition, it made governments, private companies, and federal agencies invest big money in medical research. By making similar investments for finding cure for other diseases, rapid progress is certainly possible.

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Why is it important?

COVID-19 vaccines have been crucial for limiting the spread of the pandemic. Its rapid development has been especially vital for at-risk patients. For example, people with blood or lung cancers face a high risk of severe symptoms and death from COVID-19. The vaccine can protect them from COVID-19 and lower their risk of becoming chronic carriers of this virus. KEY TAKEAWAY: The development of COVID-19 vaccines is a remarkable feat for the scientific community, as well as humanity. The medical community may be required to answer questions regarding the safety and development of COVID-19 vaccines, and this article takes a step in that direction.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: How Did We Get a COVID-19 Vaccine in Less Than 1 Year?, Clinical Cancer Research, February 2021, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR),
DOI: 10.1158/1078-0432.ccr-21-0079.
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