Why in news?
The American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer along with German biotech company BioNTech has begun human trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine in the US.
What is being tested?
- The candidate is known as an mRNA vaccine, and it is meant to contain the instructions for making viral proteins that can trigger an immune response in patients infected with the virus.
- The trial is part of a global development programme, and the dosing of the first cohort in Germany was completed last week.
- The short (less than four-month) timeframe in which they were able to move from pre-clinical studies to human testing is extraordinary.
- Pfizer and BioNTech are also working to scale up production for global supply.
- Pfizer plans to activate its extensive manufacturing network and invest at risk in an effort to produce an approved COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible for those most in need around the world.
- The breadth of this program should allow the production of millions of vaccine doses in 2020, increasing to hundreds of millions in 2021.
How Vaccines work?
- A vaccine works by training the immune system to recognize and combat pathogens, either viruses or bacteria.
- To do this, certain molecules from the pathogen must be introduced into the body to trigger an immune response.
- These molecules are called antigens, and they are present on all viruses and bacteria.
- By injecting these antigens into the body, the immune system can safely learn to recognize them as hostile invaders, produce antibodies, and remember them for the future.