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Your Virus Questions - Answered.

Researchers and scientists all over the world are rushing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. As of the 18 of June 2020, there are 194 vaccines in varying stages of development around the world, according to The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s (LSHTM) tracker.

How does a vaccine work?

Vaccines aim to introduce a person to a virus without getting them sick. This can be done by introducing part of the virus, a weakened version of the virus, or a dead virus. All vaccines aim to introduce a virus’ antigens to the immune system. This means that if the person later comes into contact with the virus, their immune system can recognize the virus and will be protected by the antigens.

What types of vaccines are currently being developed for the coronavirus?

Of the 194 vaccines currently in development, only 8 are inactivated, meaning they use a dead version of the virus. A much larger number of teams - 61- are trying to develop a protein subunit vaccine. These work by introducing key parts of the virus so that the body is protected by them if the person ever comes into contact with the virus.

There are also 24 RNA and 13 DNA vaccines in development. RNA vaccines work by attempting to stimulate cells to produce antigens that will then be detected by and attached to the immune system. DNA vaccines work similarly by altering the DNA of a cell so that it produces specific antigens that the immune system then detects and forms an attachment with.

39 teams are working on a viral vector vaccine. Viral vector vaccines use harmless viruses that have the antigens from the virus that the vaccine is being designed to protect against. The harmless viruses act as a delivery system to introduce the antigens into the human body. Some viral vectors are replicating viral vectors, meaning that they multiply once inside the body to produce more of them, whereas non-replicating viral vectors do not.