It is increasingly recognized that more SARS-CoV-2 vaccines will be introduced soon and in this sense it is also important to have into consideration that all the available vaccines will need to be monitored in extensive populations. There are a wide range of potential vaccines for COVID-19 in study process at the moment.
However, if any of these vaccines prove to be safe and effective soon, they will need to be approved by national regulators, manufactured following strict standards and then, they will be able to be distributed. There have been global efforts to manufacture effective diagnostic technologies which are the key for the monitoring of COVID-19, specifically, serological testing will be vital in monitoring antibody levels, and the immune response to the different vaccines.
Is there a COVID-19 Vaccine?
Yes. There are three COVID-19 vaccines for which certain national regulatory authorities have authorized the use. Large studies of 5 vaccine candidates efficacy and safety results have been publicly reported through press releases. We expect more such reports in the near future. The types of vaccines that have been investigated so far act in different ways, these are the main ones:
You can follow the progression of the vaccines on this link on WHO’s website.
As we have seen before in this article, any licensed vaccine is rigorously tested across multiple phases of trials before it is approved for use, and regularly revaluated once it is introduced. Scientists are also constantly monitoring information from several resources for any sign that a vaccine may cause risks. This means this vaccine is not more dangerous than others that have been approved before. The fast development of this vaccine is due to the inversion in investigation and development has been larger than usual, companies have invested in order to go through all the process faster than usual.
Additionally, there have been so many companies and people working simultaneously in order to make this process faster, investigators and scientists have been working non-stop in this vaccine and they keep on working on it worldwide. These vaccines have not been created out of nothing, they are all based on other studies and previously studied technologies for another similar virus and infections, and they have been adapted to the specific characteristics of SARS-CoV-2. Furthermore, to ensure safer vaccines, as we have explained before, these laboratories have followed the whole process established and they will have to be authorized to be commercialized.
How are vaccines tested?
According to WHO’s website, this is the procedure vaccines must follow to be safe:
There is no information about long-term protection of COVID-19 vaccines yet. There will be additional research in order to answer this question, however, available data suggest that most people who recover from COVID-19 develop an immune response that provides some protection against reinfection, although there are still trying to discover how long it will last. For this reason, it is not clear how many doses of a Covid-19 vaccine will be needed, even though the most vaccines being tested at the moment are using two doses.
In this sense, and looking at emerging data, patients are susceptible to second infections of COVID-19 after losing immunity, and due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 people may be advised to get the vaccine even if they have been exposed to the virus before. However, serology testing which allow to quantify antibody levels, will be critical in monitoring these patterns.
COVID-19pandemic has shown the important need for molecular diagnostics, and we can analyze how countries that have developed early their testing resources and capability have managed the outbreak more successfully.
In this sense, serological surveys are essential for the next stage of the pandemic we are going to face. Throughout serological surveys we are able to look for antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in population groups, and the main objectives of these surveys is, firstly to learn how many people of that group have been exposed to the virus, and secondly, which of those groups are more exposed or have had higher rates of infections. Additionally, the public health authorities will have an idea of how infection rates are progressing in a particular area. These tendencies will give us so much information about how the human immune system works against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, how long antibodies last and how long they protect us. These tests also give an opportunity to answer all those questions.
On June 2020 Immunostep announced the development of a quantitative antibody test to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in human serum and plasma, these serological tests are now available and will help supporting the evaluation of vaccines in this new phase of the pandemic that we are going to face soon. This new serological test has the main advantage that it can detect antibodies from the onset of symptoms, allowing to confirm patients with recent and past infection, which opens opportunities for a better understanding of the immune response and its evolution over time after vaccination.
This test has been developed to quantify the antibodies that specifically bind to the Cysteine-like Protease protein of the virus, a key in viral replication during the infection process. In this sense, Immunostep is committed to provide reliable and accurate testing products to investigate population immunity.