2022 GS3 Answer

Q. What is the basic principle behind vaccine development? How do vaccines work? What approaches were adopted by the Indian vaccine manufacturers to produce COVID-19 vaccines ?

Question from UPSC Mains 2022 GS3 Paper

Model Answer: 

Vaccines are biological products designed to prevent or treat infectious diseases. They stimulate the immune system to produce an immune response against a specific pathogen, without causing the disease. In the case of COVID-19, several vaccine manufacturers in India and around the world have developed vaccines that provide protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Basic Principle Behind Vaccine Development:

The basic principle behind vaccine development is to expose the immune system to a harmless part of the pathogen, such as a protein or a weakened version of the virus or bacteria. This exposure triggers an immune response, which leads to the production of antibodies and other immune cells that can recognize and destroy the pathogen if the person is later exposed to it.

How do Vaccines Work?

Here is a general overview of how vaccines work:

Introduction of the Pathogen: A vaccine contains a harmless part of the pathogen, such as a protein or a weakened version of the virus or bacteria.

Activation of the Immune System: When the vaccine is administered, the immune system recognizes the pathogen and mounts an immune response.

Production of Antibodies: The immune system produces antibodies that can recognize and neutralize the pathogen.

Memory Cells: The immune system also creates memory cells that can recognize the pathogen if the person is exposed to it again in the future.

Protection against Disease: If the person is later exposed to the pathogen, the immune system can quickly mount a response and prevent the person from developing the disease.

Approaches Adopted by Indian Vaccine Manufacturers for COVID-19 Vaccines:

There are two main types of COVID-19 vaccines: mRNA vaccines and vector vaccines. Here are the approaches adopted by Indian vaccine manufacturers for COVID-19 vaccines:

Covishield: The Covishield vaccine, developed by the Serum Institute of India, is a vector vaccine. It uses a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that has been modified to carry the gene for the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When the vaccine is administered, the adenovirus delivers the gene for the spike protein to the cells, which then produce the protein. The immune system recognizes the spike protein and mounts an immune response, which provides protection against COVID-19.

Covaxin: The Covaxin vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech, is an inactivated virus vaccine. It uses a version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has been inactivated, or killed, so it cannot cause disease. When the vaccine is administered, the immune system recognizes the inactivated virus and mounts an immune response, which provides protection against COVID-19.

ZyCoV-D: The ZyCoV-D vaccine, developed by Zydus Cadila, is a DNA vaccine. It uses a small piece of DNA that contains the gene for the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When the vaccine is administered, the DNA enters the cells and instructs them to produce the spike protein. The immune system recognizes the spike protein and mounts an immune response, which provides protection against COVID-19.

Conclusion:

The development of COVID-19 vaccines by Indian vaccine manufacturers is an important achievement in the fight against the pandemic. The different approaches adopted by these manufacturers highlight the versatility and adaptability of vaccine technology, and demonstrate the potential for innovation in the field. By stimulating the immune system to produce an immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, these vaccines have the potential to save countless lives and help bring an end to the pandemic.

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