Less than 24 hours after researchers received the first genomic sequence of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, scientists began working to identify potential preventative vaccines. Since then, the process to develop these innovative medical products has been on full display.
Already, multiple vaccines and treatments have received emergency use authorization (EUA) for use in the United States. Global health authorities outside the United States have also authorized numerous vaccines. Additionally, in the United States, one antiviral medicine has been approved for the treatment of severe COVID-19 infection. While COVID-19 was unknown to scientists until late 2019, research and development essential to supporting the vaccines and treatments ultimately authorized and approved to treat COVID-19 has been ongoing for several years.
Extensive research conducted over decades built a base of knowledge and a toolkit that positioned researchers to respond quickly and develop potential COVID-19 vaccines in less than a year. All of the vaccines that have received EUAs so far rely on groundbreaking platform technology, from mRNA to viral vector approaches. Once a genetic target is identified from a new infectious agent, these platforms can be used to quickly create prototype vaccines to move into preclinical and clinical testing.
Furthermore, these groundbreaking platform technologies helped lay the foundation due to decades of investment to further advance vaccine discovery and development technology. This progress marks a turning point in disease research and could have implications for our fight against a wide range of conditions, potentially including cancer and HIV.