Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading rapidly all over the world, including Pakistan. According to the latest statistics 4.5 million people have been infected with the virus while more than 306,000 have died since the virus emerged in China in December 2019.
Researchers from countries such as the United States, Australia and various nations in Europe are working alongside their Chinese counterparts to create the first vaccine that can treat the virus. It is gratifying that Pakistan has also begun developing vaccines to control the COVID-19.
How far are we from the COVID19 vaccine?
It’s a race against time; more than 306,000 have perished and 4.5 million people worldwide have become infected with the novel COVID-19 since its outbreak in China, causing top scientists to fast-track the process of producing a vaccine.
The question is: how far are they from coming up with a cure and answer the ailing humanity’s desperate cry for help? Experts have cautioned that vaccines usually take years to develop, and one for coronavirus could take between 12 to 18 months.
Pakistani experts’ claims
In Pakistan, medical experts at Karachi’s Dow University of Health Sciences have claimed that they have created a drug in this regard.
Professor Dr Saeed Qureshi of Dow University said Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG) could cure the coronavirus patients, explaining that the globulin was manufactured with purified antibodies, obtained from the recovered COVID-19 patients.
On April 9, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) had permitted clinical trials of blood plasma therapy to treat COVID-19 patients in Pakistan, having already approved the manufacturing of the raw material of an anti-malarial drug, Chloroquine. On the other hand, the World Health Organization hopes a vaccine will be ready within 18 months.
Efforts to develop COVID-19 vaccine in Pakistan
The US pharmaceutical company has entered into agreements with five South Asian pharmaceutical companies, including Ferozsons Laboratories of Pakistan, to manufacture remediation, a drug that treats coronavirus.
Under the agreement, the five companies have the “right to receive a technology transfer of the Gilead manufacturing process for ‘remdesivir’ to enable them to scale up their production quickly. Since the COVID-19 outbreak in Pakistan, local experts have been busy developing medicine.
Now, international cooperation, it hoped that Pakistan will soon develop an effective vaccine. Once the clinical trials of this drug are completed, the corona vaccine will soon be available to save lives.
Clinical trials for vaccine preparation
Clinical development is a three-phase process. During Phase I, small groups of people receive the trial vaccine. In Phase II, the clinical study is expanded and the vaccine is given to people who have characteristics (such as age and physical health) similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended.
In Phase III, the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and safety. This process is necessary to observe the advantages and disadvantages of any vaccine on humans’ bodies.
Global call for ‘free COVID-19 vaccine for all’
Prominent personalities from across the globe urged world powers to pledge a free “COVID-19 vaccine for all” when available.
An open letter signed by over 140 global leaders and experts urged governments and international partners to ensure that when a safe and effective vaccine is developed, “it is produced rapidly at scale and made available for all people, in all countries, free of charge.”