A government-appointed panel of experts has approved a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University for emergency use and will send its recommendations to the country’s drugs regulator, the Drugs Controller General of India
This duo spent more than a decade cracking a complex viral puzzle—and their skills were needed once more. Their years of sleuthing and innovating ultimately contributed a microscopic but critical piece to the most promising candidates for COVID-19 vaccines. Two already authorized in the U.S. use their discovery, as do at least two other top contenders.
In what has become a familiar pattern, the COVID-19 vaccine landscape has changed overnight, simultaneously raising hopes that more people may soon get vaccinated and triggering confusion. “It’s crazy,” says immunologist John Moore, a vaccine researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Every morning, it’s just, ‘What’s going on?’”
Like the Pfizer vaccine, the Moderna vaccine primes the immune system to attack the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 by delivering a snippet of the virus’s genetic code. That code — known as messenger RNA, or mRNA — instructs the body to build copies of the spike protein that studs the virus’ surface.
“Higher income countries like the U.S. and the U.K. are putting themselves at the front of the line — that’s obviously what’s happening,” Philip Clarke, a professor of health economics at the University of Oxford, said. “The clear failure here is not having stronger international institutions and stronger funding to pay for a vaccine globally.”