There is some precedent for accelerated delivery of a vaccine, as this is not the first time in history that a vaccine is being developed at a faster pace than usual in order to meet public health demands. Following the Ebola outbreak in Guinea in 2016, a vaccine went from early testing to clinical trials within approximately 10 months, which was unprecedented at that time. When a new outbreak of Ebola emerged in 2018, an adenoviral vector vaccine was administered to approximately 300,000 people, which helped to slow the spread of the disease and save lives.
While the development program is faster than typical, patient safety is of paramount importance. New ways of working can be introduced to reduce the time it takes for vaccines to reach communities around the world. For example, investing in manufacturing before we have evidence that it works and increasing people resources to enable trials to progress as quickly as possible, including more investigators and sites so that we can recruit more quickly than usual. This allows the highest levels of quality and safety to be maintained, while saving years of time compared to a traditional vaccine manufacturing process.
It is clear that to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, more than one vaccine will be needed. People need vaccines to do different things – to work better in older people or in children, or to alleviate disease severity. Providing broad equitable access of the COVID-19 vaccines to those in need will enable us to truly alter the course of this pandemic and positively impact the real-word effectiveness of this unprecedented vaccination programme.
For a vaccine to be effective in a real-world setting you need to consider safety, efficacy, durability of response, ease-of-use within the healthcare setting and uptake.
Learn how these could make a difference in the fight against COVID-19.
To change the course of the pandemic, COVID-19 vaccines need to be available globally and be accessible to all who need them. To achieve this, the scalability of production and manufacturing capacity are essential.
In addition, to ensure ease of access to vaccines, logistical aspects are crucial. Stability, ease-of-use (i.e., no need for specially trained medical staff) and simplicity of distribution, ideally by using a cold chain that is already in place for other vaccines, should be considered. Manufacturing capacity needs to scale as quickly as possible to enable rapid access to as many countries as possible following approval by the regulators. Furthermore, setting up local and regional supply chains reduces the need for transport and supports the resilience of local vaccine infrastructure.
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