COVID-19 – Current Trends in Vaccine Research
Falling Walls Circle Tables will give the spotlight to world-leading scientists, science strategists and policy-makers from academia, business and politics discuss how we can apply science, research and innovation to get the world moving again.
Vaccinations provide a pathway to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, but they also present immense challenges. In this Falling Walls Circle Table – held before phase 3 trial data from any COVID-19 vaccine research had been published – the panel discussed how companies have raced to develop vaccines, and to produce them at vast scales.
The doctrine has long been that it takes a minimum of two years to develop medications for a new pathogen. Accelerating this development has presented great challenges to supply chains, which have had to ramp up operations, while continuing to produce their conventional products and keep their employees safe. But 2020 astounded expectations, with some vaccine candidates developed over a matter of weeks. Given the rapid pace of the vaccine research and development, Uwe Gottschalk asked, “how can we apply it, learn from it and implement it elsewhere?”
Once vaccines are developed, however, hundreds of millions of doses must be produced. To accelerate production, companies are taking advantage of innovations such as virtual reality training of specialists and artificial intelligence enhanced processes. Manufacturing can be expanded by making use of multiple facilities. But not all innovation comes from development and production. Careful consideration of who to vaccinate with which vaccine can have profound impacts on the course of the pandemic.