To give you some context around how fast the COVID-19 vaccine was developed let’s first see if you remember the Ebola outbreak in West Africa back in 2014. While it wasn’t quite as big as the COVID-19 pandemic it was still an international public health emergency. This vaccine took 5 years to develop from the beginning phases to its being approved for use. This was 5 years faster than any other vaccine development before it. Vaccine development before the Ebola outbreak would usually take anywhere between 10 to 15 years to get approved for safe use.
The COVID-19 was developed and approved in 1 year. While the average person may not be impressed by this, scientists and health professionals around the world have been amazed at this achievement. But how was it developed five times faster than any other vaccine to come before it?
To start with, the global collaboration to develop the vaccine has never been seen before. As a global community, we simply didn’t have the time to wait 5, 10 or 15 years before a vaccine was developed. We needed it now, and without global collaboration and the sharing of research and knowledge; there is no way the vaccine could have been safely developed within such a short time period.
Even issues outside the development of the vaccine required global collaboration. Storage and transportation required international cooperation. The vaccines developed required storage and temperatures below minus 70 degrees Celsius; this caused some issues that need to be overcome. So global collaboration stepped in and used dry ice in Sydney would be used to create dry ice boxes that could transport vaccines all across the globe safely.
It’s Not the First Coronavirus
Coronavirus isn’t a term the average person would know or understand before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a coronavirus is a group of common viruses and even includes some names you might have heard before like SARS, MERS; and even a small number of strains of the common cold. This meant that the virus wasn’t completely unknown and we had a starting point and pre-existing knowledge; and research of the virus.
The funding that goes into developing and producing a vaccine is huge. Funding for vaccines commonly getting up to about $70 million USD. However, the money put into developing the COVID-19 vaccines went into the billions as governments and private funds threw money at developers across the world to get the vaccine developed as fast as they could. Without this funding and money, there is no way we would have multiple vaccines ready for safe use.
The COVID-19 vaccine was made in record time, but it wasn’t by luck. There was a lot that went into its safe and speedy development and it’s unlikely furniture vaccine development will get the same treatment unless we see and other COVID-19 like pandemics.