Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists have been working at full speed on research into SARS-CoV-2, on the development of vaccines and drugs against COVID-19, and on other possible solutions to the pandemic. Due to the severe consequences at the beginning of the Corona pandemic, the research and approval process was carried out in an accelerated manner, without compromising on the requirements of quality, efficacy and tolerability.
Important factors in the rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines were:.
1 - Scientists were able to benefit from prior knowledge because they had been conducting research on related coronaviruses for years.
2 - The technology on which mRNA vaccines are built is not new. It has been researched for several decades, so mRNA vaccines were not unknown and were already well developed.
3 - Because the Corona pandemic is a global challenge, a great many institutions and research teams have been simultaneously researching vaccines. Significantly more resources - both financial and human - were devoted to COVID-19 vaccine development than would otherwise have been the case.
4 - The increased resources also allowed study and development phases to be conducted in parallel when stringent safety requirements allowed.
5 - Pharmaceutical companies worked closely with regulators from the beginning. Results were reviewed in parallel with ongoing development.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Safety, quality and efficacy - these criteria apply to the development and approval of all vaccines, regardless of whether the process is time-shortened or not. Covid-19 vaccines also underwent the same development steps as usual. The approved Corona vaccines, of course, went through a rigorous review process to receive approval. Even after their approval, the vaccines are regularly inspected and monitored.
To learn more about the approval process and the development of vaccines, see this article: "How a vaccine is developed"
Continuous development of vaccines.
Basically, researchers are constantly working to improve the safety and efficacy of existing vaccines. For example, COVID-19 vaccines have already been adapted to emerging coronavirus variants (most recently BA.4/BA.5). The time intervals at which mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus occur cannot be specifically predicted. However, the occurrence of new variants is closely monitored in order to identify in time whether an adaptation of the vaccine is necessary. In any case, it is important to be vaccinated against Corona as a matter of principle and to refresh the vaccination protection regularly.
Adapted variant vaccine - THE upgrade in Corona vaccines.
Various COVID-19 vaccines adapted to the Omikron variants BA.4/BA.5 are available in Austria. It is currently administered mostly as the 4th Corona vaccine. How effective the adapted variant vaccine is and how exactly it works is explained by molecular biologist Martin Moder on the basis of current scientific data in this video.