Covid-19 vaccine tracker, August 3: Why so many vaccines are being developed

According to the latest list of the World Health Organisation, at least 165 vaccines for novel Coronavirus were being developed across the world. There are possibly more, but still in the early stages, and not listed by WHO. Those that are listed have all entered at least the pre-clinical trials stage. Some of them are in the final stage of human trials, possibly only a few months away from hitting the market (a Russian vaccine promises to be ready in weeks, if not in days), while many others are just getting into animal trials, and are perhaps a couple of years away from becoming ready.

But why are so many vaccines being developed? Do we need so many Coronavirus vaccines? Wouldn’t one be enough? Wouldn’t the first one to hit the market make others redundant? Aren’t then we wasting huge amount of money and resources in duplicating efforts? Shouldn’t everyone collaborate to produce just one effective vaccine, and concentrate our efforts in ensuring that it is made available to all?

Here are some possible answers.

Vaccines fail. Vaccine development has a very low success rate

It might not be evident in the context of the current pandemic, when so many companies and research laboratories are rushing to produce a vaccine, but vaccine development is an incredibly complex, time-consuming, resource-intensive process. Besides, it is also a very high-risk process. The chances of success are extremely low. Read in Bangla

Out of the 100 that are considered in the research laboratories as potential candidates, barely 20 make it to the pre-clinical trial stage. This means almost 80 per cent of the candidates are not even considered suitable to be tried on animals. Then, not more than five of the original lot are approved for human trials, and out of these, not more than one or two stand a chance of being approved for public use.

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