COVID-19 is not the first pandemic in the world, but the rapid development of antiretroviral drugs is not uncommon with its speed and huge cost of Big Pharma.
Antiretroviral drugs have come a long way since Chinese monks tried to vaccinate people with smallpox by grinding them into pieces and spraying them on healthy noses.
As the world struggles with the recent outbreak of fury, which has caused 2.5 million deaths so far, governments, private investors and charities have invested billions of dollars in the search for a vaccine and its development during the recording.
The purpose of any vaccine is to create the so-called herd immune system, where enough people have the virus or vaccine, which is estimated by some to be 80% of the population, so the virus has nowhere else to go. When left unmanaged, the virus can spread to other species to invade the human immune system.
With developed countries jumping in early to buy the supply of twelve available vaccines, not all approved by international authorities, developing countries are left behind, and many are struggling to cope with the disease.
Pharmaceutical firms were not always in a hurry to invest in vaccines.
While the first pioneers in the new field of immunology work quietly in public thanks but with little financial gain, new COVID-19 drugs have been developed by some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms, especially community-owned companies. profit.
The top six pharma firms received a combined $ 266 billion last year, with a profit of $ 46 billion.
The companies initially did not rush into the vaccine sector, which proved to be less attractive to investors in the past. Countries where there is a great need for vaccines are often the poorest, most affordable.
Past vaccines lasted for years, sometimes for decades. The search for a vaccine against the bird flu virus in Asia at the turn of the century was halted when the disease subsided. Another search for a vaccine for the recent Zika outbreak in Brazil and other countries that has caused newborn infertility has not paid off.
Meanwhile, the search for the oldest and most dangerous vaccine, the bubonic plague that killed an estimated 200 million people in the Middle Ages and still lingers in some parts of the world, continues.
And there is no longer a vaccine for malaria, a debilitating and often fatal disease, caused by parasites, that by 2019 we are responsible for an estimated 230 million cases and the deaths of more than 400 people, 94% of whom are in Africa.
Scientists first work in small groups.
Although various forms of vaccination were tested over the centuries, the father of immunology is generally identified as the British scientist Edward Jenner, who came up with the first appropriate vaccine for smallpox, in 1796. At that time, the disease killed 10% of those who contracted it, increasing to 20% in cities and towns where it could be easily spread.
He had noticed that girls who used to drink milk were more likely to get lumps, which, in turn, seemed to be unsafe in this deadly version. He infected his eight-year-old son in his garden with a cow, then exposed him to smallpox, only to discover that he had not caught it.
However, it was not until the 1950s that the organized smallpox vaccination campaign began to address the epidemic, which was estimated to have killed between 300 million and 500 million people in the 20th century. It was officially announced that it was eliminated in 1980, the only vaccine to be eradicated.
In 1918 an earthquake shook the world.
The outbreak of the Spanish flu, which was estimated to have infected some 500 million people, has given rise to international scientists. Without a second vaccine or anti-biotic vaccine, at least 50 million people will die. The worst affected were children under the age of five, healthy adults between the ages of 20 and 40, and those over 65 years of age.
The epidemic prompted scientists to search for vaccines and treatments for diseases that had killed millions of people centuries earlier. Scientists have worked mainly in small groups, as opposed to large research groups and resources found in large pharma companies.
Among the top targets was tuberculosis, the leading cause of death from infectious diseases, which recently killed 1.5 million people by 2018. The BCG vaccine developed by French scientists Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin, and first used in 1921, has helped reduce the death toll but is struggling to cope with new strains of the disease, and a new breed is being actively developed.
One of the main targets was polio, a disease that could cause paralysis, especially in children, that had existed for centuries but by the late 1800s it had reached the global epidemic level. The most widely used injectable drug was developed by Jonas Salk in 1955, followed by Albert Sabin orally.
Vaccines for other potential killers such as typhoid, yellow fever, tetanus and other childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, and tetanus were developed during the first half of the 20th century.
Big Pharma’s biggest money on COVID-19 vaccines.
However, in the 1960’s, the pace of research slowed down as some of the largest pharmaceutical companies, many based in the United States, became disillusioned with increasing vaccine resistance.
This resistance was caused by a variety of factors, including religious beliefs, fear of negative consequences and questions about social freedom, and an increase in suite cases brought by people complaining of permanent damage to their lives.
This has left the global immunization business in the hands of countries such as India, Brazil, South Africa and South Korea, to develop well.