For a vaccine to reach the general public it will have to work and be safe.
There may be a misconception that vaccine research takes a long time but it isn’t the research that takes the time – it’s all the steps beforehand, like getting funding and approval. What’s sped up in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine is the funding. The UK Government funded trials to get them up and running quickly.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Medicines Research Authority have sped up the process of approval – things like administrative paperwork that used to take months is now being done in days. This is what’s brought down the time for delivery of the clinical trials.
Processes have been streamlined and run in parallel. The length of the trials themselves have not been shortened, and the usual safety measures remain in place and high standards must still be met.
It has also been enabled by new technology, including the ability to rapidly manufacture vaccines. And supply – the vaccine is being produced already so that as soon as it’s known to be safe and effective it can be made available.