Infographic: From the Spanish flu to COVID — How long has it taken to develop vaccines?

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Credit: Heads of State
Credit: Heads of State

In the graphic [below], we explore how long it has historically taken to bring a vaccine to market during pandemics dating back to the 1900s, and what the process entails.

Although the assumption can be made that developing a vaccine for infectious diseases has become more efficient since the 1900s, that statement is not entirely correct.

It took approximately 25 years to develop a vaccine for the Spanish Flu which killed between 40-50 million people. Similarly, it was only last year that the FDA approved the first Ebola vaccine—an effort that took 43 years since the discovery of the virus.

COVID-19 vaccines and subsequent candidates have overturned the conventional process due to their unconventional technology.

Even though there are no approved vaccines for other coronaviruses such as MERS and SARS, previous research into these diseases has helped identify potential solutions for COVID-19 using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology.

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With the COVID-19 crisis showing no signs of slowing down, most of us continue to live in hope that the light is at the end of the tunnel.

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Related article:  Infographic: Where does the coronavirus fit in humanity's long history of plagues and influenza pandemics?
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