Is the COVID Vaccine Ready?

The world is eagerly waiting for a Coronavirus vaccine. Most of the media is playing with people’s emotions and spreading incorrect information. This article helps you to understand the basics of vaccines, how it works, what is the process of making a vaccine, and updates on the COVID vaccine. The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of immunization to our modern world, but the path to universal vaccination is neither simple nor cheap.1

It will be helpful to understand the terms vaccines, vaccination, and immunizations.

Vaccine: A vaccine is made from very small amounts of weak or dead germs that can cause diseases — for example, viruses, bacteria, or toxins. It prepares your body to fight the disease faster and more effectively so you won’t get sick.

Vaccination: Vaccination is the act of getting a vaccine, usually as a shot.

Immunization: Immunization is the process of becoming immune to (protected against) a disease.

Vaccines are designed to prevent disease, rather than treat illness once you have caught it. Vaccines play an important role in keeping us healthy. They protect us from severe and sometimes deadly diseases. Vaccines significantly reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to develop immunity to disease safely. Scientists take many approaches to develop vaccines.2

The Body’s Natural Defenses3

Before we learn about how vaccines work, it will be helpful to understand how our body fights illness. When germs, such as bacteria or viruses, invade the body, they attack and multiply. This invasion is called an infection and it causes illness. Our blood contains white blood cells (WBC), red blood cells, and platelets. WBCs are an important part of your immune system. They help fight infections by attacking bacteria, viruses, and germs.3 These white cells consist primarily of macrophages, B-lymphocytes, and T-lymphocytes:

  • Macrophages are white blood cells that swallow up and digest germs, plus dead or dying cells. The macrophages leave behind parts of the invading germs called antigens. The body identifies antigens as dangerous and stimulates antibodies to attack them.3
  • B-lymphocytes are defensive white blood cells. They produce antibodies that attack the antigens left behind by the macrophages.3
  • T-lymphocytes are another type of defensive white blood cell. They attack cells in the body that have already been infected.3

The first time the body encounters a germ, it can take several days to make and use all the germ-fighting tools needed to get over the infection. After the infection, the immune system remembers what it learned about how to protect the body against that disease. The body keeps a few T-lymphocytes, called memory cells, that go into action quickly if the body encounters the same germ again. When the familiar antigens are detected, B-lymphocytes produce antibodies to attack them.3

How Do Vaccines Work?3

Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection. It does not cause illness, but it does cause the immune system to produce T-lymphocytes and antibodies. Sometimes, after getting a vaccine, the imitation infection can cause minor symptoms, such as fever. Once the imitation infection goes away, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes, as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that disease in the future. It takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination.3

Usually, it takes many years to develop any vaccine. Coronavirus vaccines are moving much faster. It will be a world record if we get a vaccine within 12 to 18 months. Do not expect or plan on it.

The Process of Developing a New Vaccine:

The general stages of the development cycle of a vaccine are:

  • Exploratory stage
  • Pre-clinical stage
  • Clinical development: Phase I, II & III
  • Regulatory review and approval
  • Manufacturing and phase 4 testing
  • Quality control

Each country has its own regulatory center. For example, the USA has Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for regulating vaccines in the United States.

Vaccines are more thoroughly tested than non-vaccine drugs because the number of human subjects in vaccine clinical trials is usually greater. Due to current emergency condition, some of the clinical trial phases are combined to save time and speed up the process of developing the vaccine. During a pandemic, a vaccine may receive emergency use authorization before getting formal approval. Once a vaccine is licensed, researchers continue to monitor people who receive it to ensure it’s safe and effective.4

As of August 15th, 2020, 165 companies are working on a coronavirus vaccine5. Out of it, 31 companies have entered into human clinical trials. Some trials will fail, and others may end without a clear result. But a few may succeed in stimulating the immune system to produce effective antibodies against the virus. If everything works out, we will have a vaccine ready at the end of this year and will be available to the public as soon as early 20215.

If you want to read more information about which companies and which countries are involved in vaccine development and what is their current status, click on the following link:

Herd Immunity is NOT the answer

What is herd immunity?5 Herd immunity happens when 60-70% of people have developed immunity to a particular infectious disease.  It means, billions of people around the world should develop immunity. For example, the US has population around 390 million which means it will need a minimum 200,000 new cases everyday for 3 years to get to the number 60%. Currently the healthcare system is struggling to manage a 1/4 of that (40,000 to 70,000 new cases a day). If this were allowed to happen, the number of cases would overrun the healthcare system and raise the death rate. People would be unable to get the medical help for COVID as well as for non-COVID issues. Without the vaccine, herd immunity is not an option.

Do not be in the misconception that coronavirus infection is just a common cold, and I can quickly recover and will develop antibodies against it, which will prevent it for the rest of my life. We still did not know the long term effects or consequences yet. The smart thing to do is, try not to get the infection.

It will take long time to get control over Coronavirus and we have to continue taking precautions until that time:

  • Corona virus is real!!
  • Do not get overexcited about the vaccine. It is hard to know how effective the vaccine is going to be
  • Use face covering/mask
  • Wash hands for 20 seconds and/or use sanitizer
  • Maintain physical distance of 6 feet from others
  • Steam inhalation, gargles or turmeric milk can help relieving the symptoms such as nasal congestion and throat irritation, but it does not prevent or kill corona virus
  • Do not take any medicines (like Azithromycin, Hydroxychloroquin) without doctor’s recommendation
  • Boost your immunity with balanced diet (click here), good sleep (click here), deep breathing exercises, physical exercises (click here), positive mental health (click here) and staying away from misinformation through social media
  • Do not assume that you won the battle once vaccine is available. We have long way to go! Be prepared to live with a new norm lifestyle!
  • More information on Corona virus (click here) and tips to avoid it (click here)



10 Replies to “Is the COVID Vaccine Ready?”

  1. Sopya bhashet ,sarvana samjel asa abhyaspurna lekh.Beautiful…..looking for your next artical.👍👍😘

  2. Sopya bhashet atishay abhyaspurna lekh.Beautiful……looking for your next artical keepit up.👍👍😘

      1. Thank you Dr. Bandari. This is why I call you a friend. You provide me with information I need. I will continue to study what you willingly share and will not be hoodwinked by the media. Blessings always m!

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