BBC Inside Science
Coronavirus: The types of vaccine; How the UK is scaling up vaccine production
Thursday, 10 September
Vaccination has eradicated smallpox, a disease that decimated populations through the 20th century. Polio is almost gone too, and measles is no longer the pervasive childhood threat it once was. It’s clear that vaccination is our best tool to halt the threat of SARS CoV 2, and allow the return to a less restricted way of life. But it takes time to develop and test vaccines although the technologies used to create them have moved on significantly over the last few decades.
Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist at Nottingham University, talks Adam Rutherford through the several types of vaccine that are being explored in the effort to stop the coronavirus pandemic, and how they work. These include live attenuated virus vaccines that are genetically modified to appear to be SARS CoV 2 to the immune system, and RNA subunit vaccines that trick the body into recognising the virus. He discusses the way different vaccines work against disease, and how they trigger different types of immune response.
Before a vaccine is approved for general use it has to pass through three trial phases, and Jonathan discusses the vaccines that are already going through phase 2 and 3 in the UK.
If and when a vaccine gets approved, it needs to be produced to exacting standards and in quantities great enough to immunise the whole population. The UK Vaccine Manufacturing Taskforce was set up in May to coordinate the effort to make a vaccine. Steve Bagshaw, part of the Taskforce, explains that some vaccines have already been produced around the UK, prior to clinical approval in an effort to ensure that any approved vaccine is ready to be distributed as fast as possible to those at risk. This is unprecedented, and means the pathway to vaccine distribution could be faster than any that have gone before.
Presented by Adam Rutherford
Produced by Fiona Roberts and Rory Galloway