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Let's VAX!

Vaccines, a prick of sustenance or a stab to purgatory? The very premise of a vaccine has been a hotly contested one, with extreme views coming into the limelight. So, what’s all the fuss about? Let’s take a jab at it.

Brain PokeDid you know bananas and human beings share 50% of their DNA? *in minion voice*“BANANAAAAAAAAAAA”

What are vaccines?

Vaccines are a substance whose purpose is to provoke an immune response from the body; the production of antibodies. What exactly does this mean though? Basically, a vaccine contains a ‘watered down’ form of a bacterium/virus/pathogen or a substance which can mimic the same; tricking the body into assuming that it is under attack. The body will produce antibodies to fight the alleged attacker. So, when the body is actually exposed to said bacterium/virus/pathogen, it is already prepared to neutralise the threat. The body has the answer key even before it sees the question paper. Seems almost like magic, doesn’t it?

Brain Poke – The first vaccine was developed by Edward Jenner in 1790 to be used against smallpox. One of mankind’s greatest scientific accomplishments has been the complete eradication of smallpox from human race.

How are vaccines developed, tested and approved?

1. Development

  • The development starts in many ways. Part of a deactivated virus, bacterium, antigen or protein mimicking compound is evaluated.

  • The concoction will have more ingredients like diluents to ensure the dosage is in correct proportion, surfactants to keep all the ingredients well blended and preservatives to increase its shelf-life.

  • Once there is evidence to prove the efficacy of a vaccine, initial testing is done on animals whose DNA closely resembles humans, to try and develop an immune response.

2. Testing

  • Once the animal testing yields good results the testing moves further onto human volunteers.

  • The testing happens in 3 phases: