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Since humans haven’t previously been exposed to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), our bodies aren’t well equipped to deal with being infected by it. A vaccine would allow the body to safely develop an immune response to COVID-19 that could prevent or control infection.

But it takes time to develop safe and effective vaccines – usually five to ten years on average. Despite promising reports about potential coronavirus vaccines being developed worldwide, it could still take an estimated 12-18 months to develop one.

It’s becoming quicker to develop new vaccines than it was in the past as we can build on research from vaccines used for other diseases. During outbreaks, more resources and funding may also become available, which can speed up the process. Products might also be considered for use even before being formally granted licences to control the disease in severely affected areas during emergencies.

The development of a potential novel coronavirus vaccine is being partly led by experts who were already developing vaccines for other coronaviruses. This type of virus was identified as a possible cause of the next big pandemic as the other coronaviruses SARS and MERS have been responsible for two global outbreaks in the last 20 years. Research on vaccines for these coronaviruses was already undergoing clinical trials.

Read the full article on The Conversation website, written by Andrew Pollard (Oxford Vaccine Group, Department of Paediatrics), Samantha Vanderslott (Oxford Martin School) and Tonia Thomas (Oxford Vaccine Group, Department of Paediatrics).

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