In the fifth episode of Health24's vaccine information series, Professor Wolfgang Preiser, Head of Medical Virology at Stellenbosch University, discusses the speed at which the Covid-19 vaccines were created.
Preiser also acknowledges a great deal of skepticism around the vaccines because they were developed in such a short time frame but explains how it was possible and what it took.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) has said that the research groundwork for the Covid vaccines is not entirely new, that several techniques scientists are using have been researched and worked on before for other vaccines and treatments.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, the British vaccinologist who designed the Oxford vaccine, told the BBC that when the Ebola outbreak took place, the world should have done better and that’s when she and her team started their research around a vaccine for a deadly disease that could take the world by surprise, like Ebola did.
Professor Andrew Pollard, who also worked on the Oxford team, added that they had a head start because this pandemic was caused by a coronavirus, a type of virus many scientists knew because of research done on previous coronavirus outbreaks – SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012.
One of the main obstacles in scientists’ path, however, was funding. Doing research and running trials are costly, but researchers received funding to bring about the Covid-19 vaccines, and to continue their research and surveillance to advance vaccine efficacy.