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The development of the COVID-19 vaccine has become a critical task for the global community. As of December 2020, more than 200 potential vaccines are being developed by various medical institutions and pharmaceutical companies. Seven candidate vaccines are currently in phase III of clinical trials, 4 of which are of Chinese origin. In late February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced hopes that a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 will become available in the next 18 months.

Constant mutation of the virus complicates the development of a vaccine. Its effectiveness depends on the ability to induce an immune response in the human body. There are currently eight technology platforms for vaccine development. The German company BioNTech in cooperation with Pfizer developed a vaccine using an RNA vaccines technology platform. The principle of operation of an RNA vaccine is based on the fact that genetic information about an antigen is delivered instead of the antigen itself, and then the antigen is expressed in the cells of the vaccinated person.

On July 27, 2020, German company BioNTech, partnering with Pfizer and Chinese drug manufacturer Fosun Pharma, announced a Phase II / III trial of its BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine with 30,000 volunteers in the United States and other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, and Germany. Prior to this, in July, the preliminary results of phase I / II studies in the USA and Germany were published. It was found that the volunteers developed antigens against SARS-CoV-2, as well as immune T cells that respond to the virus. Some volunteers experienced mild side effects such as sleep disturbance and pain in the arms.

On November 9, 2020, the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech and the American Pfizer announced that preliminary analysis of data from the trial of their vaccine "BNT162b2" shows that it is more than 90% effective.

On November 18, 2020, the pharmaceutical concerns BioNTech and Pfizer updated the results of the trial of their BNT162b2 vaccine, analysing all 164 cases, and concluded that the effectiveness is 95%. Among people over 65, who often have a poor response to vaccines, the vaccine was 94% effective.

On December 8, 2020, the UK was the first Western country to begin mass vaccination against COVID-19. For vaccination, the vaccine "BNT162b2" was taken from the firms Pfizer and BioNTech.

According to the WHO, clinical trials of 52 candidate vaccines are currently underway.

Key terms:

  1. WHO

  2. Pfizer

  3. BioNTech

  4. Vaccine

  5. Trial

  6. Antigen

Key question:

  1. How will COVID-19 vaccine development affect the pandemic?

  2. Many people are against the use of vaccinations and their fears of the COVID-19 vaccine have been fuelled by social media and misinformation. How do you think this will impact the number of people accepting to have the vaccine? What are the dangers of this?

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