Since the discovery of mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) in 1961, scientists have learned how to use mRNA to develop a new category of medicines which have recently been proven to be transformative for preventing infection and disease in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learn more: Bok et al., Accelerated COVID-19 vaccine development: milestones, lessons, and prospects, Immunity (2021), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2021.07.017. Download PDF. Summary. The development of effective vaccines to combat infectious diseases is a complex multi-year and multi-stakeholder process. To accelerate the development of vaccines for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a novel pathogen emerging in late 2019 and spreading globally by early 2020, the United States government (USG) mounted an operation bridging public and private sector expertise and infrastructure. The success of the endeavor can be seen in the rapid advanced development of multiple vaccine candidates, with several demonstrating efficacy and now being administered around the globe. Here, we review the milestones enabling the USG-led effort, the methods utilized, and ensuing outcomes. We discuss the current status of COVID-19 vaccine development and provide a perspective for how partnership and preparedness can be better utilized in response to future public-health pandemic emergencies… a particular advantage of the mRNA platform is the rapidity with which candidate vaccines can be designed and produced. The synthetic chemical nature of mRNA vaccines and their lipid nanoparticle components circumvent the need to make a biological product grown in cell culture, thus simplifying production and shortening the time to the clinic (Pardi et al., 2018).
The history timeline below adapted from Bok et al.