China advances biotechnology-based research and drug development with first Omicron vaccine

China advances biotechnology-based research and drug development with first Omicron vaccine

COVID-19 has plagued the world for the past two years. It has caused economic instability, but it has also caused so much turmoil in the healthcare industry. However, the appearance of COVID-19 has brought advancements in the field, leading to the fastest vaccine to go from development to deployment. COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide, but the world is slowly getting back on its feet because of vaccines. 


Although the vaccines have caused a significant decline in deaths, the virus mutates into different variants that have proven to be stronger than the currently available vaccines. This shows that we still know very little about the virus, and studies on the matter have to continue to one day fully eradicate COVID-19.


Omicron-specific vaccine

Sinopharm, China's state-run vaccine producer, has announced the release of the world's first inactivated vaccine, specifically against Omicron. Leading epidemiologists from China hailed the new vaccine as a breakthrough.

Health experts continue to warn that Omicron poses a serious threat to people. In November 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified it as a variant of concern, and the United States identified it as such on November 30, 2021.

According to Li Lanjuan, a renowned Chinese epidemiologist in Hangzhou, developing a vaccine targeting the Omicron would provide better immunity.

The National Medical Products Administration approved the vaccine for clinical trials on April 26, 2022, after research and development began on December 9, 2021.

The volunteers for the trials had not received any vaccine against the coronavirus or had never been infected by it, so they did not have antibodies against the virus.

Li and her team will measure the level of immunogenicity and complex antibodies in volunteers to test the effectiveness and safety of the new vaccine.

The vaccine prevents people from getting infected by the disease by introducing weakened, dead, inactive, or synthetic bacteria or viruses to the body. The pathogens used in these vaccines are dead or inert, so they can't multiply or cause the diseases they're designed to prevent. However, a person's immune system can still recognize them and attack them to build immunity.

Conducting further clinical trials on vaccinated individuals would be the next logical step to determine if it is also more effective.


Continued funding

Once prevalent and fatal, many infectious diseases have been controlled, eliminated, or near-eliminated because of vaccines. As a result of recent developments in vaccine technology, new diseases like COVID-19 and its many variants can be targeted. As science progresses and these applications become broader, enhanced health outcomes are certain to follow.

What made the development of the COVID-19 vaccine revolutionary was the support and funding it received from communities and countries worldwide. Funding must continue to flow in drug development and biotechnology-based research for us to understand the disease entirely, know its effects, and what could be done to prevent and cure any person who gets infected by it. 


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