One year after the corona virus emerged in the Netherlands, tens of millions of doses of corona vaccines have already been administered worldwide.

How special is it that pharmaceutical companies have brought approved vaccines to the market within a year?

It is certainly special.

The vaccines against COVID-19 are the fastest developed vaccines ever.

Normally it takes about ten years before a vaccine can be marketed.

The fact that we already have approved corona vaccines has to do with a number of factors.

Foreknowledge of other coronaviruses

One of the most important factors is that a lot of work has already been done on vaccines against the SARS and MERS viruses, coronaviruses that closely resemble the current virus.

As a result, researchers already knew which part of the virus to focus on and which antibodies had to be generated to switch it off.

That saved a lot of laboratory research (and therefore time).

The widespread spread of the coronavirus has also played a role in its rapid development.

SARS and MERS outbreaks sometimes died out before a vaccine could be tested.

Nor can clinical research be conducted without patients.

Research phases are carried out simultaneously

In order to speed up the process, the different research phases of a vaccine were carried out simultaneously or combined.

This saves a lot of time, because these processes normally follow each other.

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Is the corona vaccine safe if it was made so quickly?

Financial support makes extensive research possible earlier

Phase 3 of the trial, in which the vaccine is tested on thousands of people, is a very costly process.

Previously, vaccine companies only invested in this step if the previous steps had been successfully completed.

However, financial support from governments and health organizations allowed this research to be set up early.

The production of vaccines has even started, while it was still uncertain whether the vaccine in question would be approved.

Vaccines are assessed more quickly

The corona vaccines were then assessed by drug authorities through an accelerated procedure.

The controllers were already watching during the study, so that all data on the effect of the vaccine had already been studied before the application for authorization was received.

This allowed a decision to be taken more quickly.

This assessment method is called a

rolling review

.

Is such an accelerated assessment safe?

"It is mainly more efficient", explains the Medicines Evaluation Board on its website.

"We do not skip any important steps in the assessment and have the same safety requirements. In addition, more time and capacity is now being made available from the MEB for the assessment of a corona vaccine, because the importance is enormous worldwide."