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LA STAMPA

Who Will Find It First? The Global Race For A Vaccine

Cooperation is important, but so is competition ... as research bodies and nations look to find the only true solution to the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible.

Vaccines usually take years to discover
Vaccines usually take years to discover
Kat Bohmbach

PARIS — As the coronavirus continues to spread its deadly tracks via human contact at remarkable speeds, medical researchers are in a race against time to develop a vaccine to immunize the global population. But there are also races within that race: among private foundations and public health administrations — and from one country to the next. Yes both cooperation and competition are vital to get an effective vaccine as quickly as possible.

So far, the general consensus is that it will take at least 12 to 18 months to map out, test and produce an effective solution. In an effort to accelerate, Bill Gates said last week that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the construction of factories for the seven most-promising vaccine candidates. Only one vaccine will ultimately be chosen, while the remaining candidates most likely make it very far at all, shining a light on the tumultuous, arduous, and extremely costly road to developing a vaccine., Meanwhile on Tuesday, Russia announced that it will begin testing a vaccine on humans as soon as June. Here are some of the factors and projects that could be key to find a solution:

  • Cost & Scale: There are currently at least 35 companies and academic institutions working on the development of a vaccine. The cost is upwards of $2 billion, according to Le Monde, meaning that only large global laboratories and start-ups backed by foundations or companies can afford to try. Once a vaccine has been approved, Johnson & Johnson in the U.S has already made a $1 billion deal to produce more than a billion doses.

  • Sequence: China sent out the genetic sequence of COVID-19 in mid-January, giving researchers a head-start, but they still don't know how the virus will evolve or react to treatments.

  • Bird study: Les Echos visited researchers in Israel working to create vaccines based on "prototype" pathogens they had already been studying in birds, as well as monitoring the effects different medications have on COVID-19 patients.

  • Real time: Because it can take so long to map out a vaccine, doctors in Italy are helping to mobilize a first of its kind effort to share research, in real-time, 24-hours a day over social media, reports La Stampa.

  • Trials: Several companies, including Moderna, in the race for developing a vaccine will be pushing forward with human testing trials in the coming weeks. This does not mean that a cure for COVID-19 is a near-reality. Seth Berkley, head of the Vaccine Alliance, GAVI, cautions that it usually takes between 10 and 15 years for a drug to go from development to testing phases and onto licensing then manufacturing. The vaccine for Ebola was ready in 5 years. One of the lead researchers behind that effort said there are some signs of hope for quicker results for COVID-19.

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Geopolitics

Why The 'Perfect Storm' Of Iran's Protests May Be Unstoppable

The latest round of anti-regime protests in Iran is different than other in the 40 years of the Islamic Republic: for its universality and boldness, the level of public fury and grief, and the role of women and social media. The target is not some policy or the economy, but the regime itself.

A woman holds a lock of her hair during a London rally to protest the murder of Mahsa Amini in London

Roshanak Astaraki

-Analysis-

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran on Sept. 16, after a possible beating at a police station, has sparked outrage and mass protests in Iran and abroad. There have been demonstrations and a violent attempt to suppress them in more than 100 districts in every province of Iran.

These protests may look like others since 2017, and back even to 1999 — yet we may be facing an unprecedented turning point in Iranians' opposition to the Islamic Republic. Indeed newly installed conservative President Ibrahim Raisi could not have expected such momentum when he set off for a quick trip to New York and back for a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

For one of the mistakes of a regime that takes pride in dismissing the national traditions of Iran is to have overlooked the power of grief among our people.

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