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Daily Current Affairs – 2020

Topic: For Prelims and Mains

Stages in the development of a vaccine

14thSep 2020

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are six stages of vaccine development: exploratory, pre-clinical, clinical development, regulatory review and approval, manufacturing and quality control.

Exploratory: This is research-intensive phase of the vaccine development process which is designed to identify “natural or synthetic antigens that might help prevent or treat a disease.”

Pre-clinical: During this phase, researchers use tissue-culture or cell-culture systems and animal testing to determine whether the candidate vaccine will produce immunity or not.

Clinical development: It is a three-phase process. During Phase I, small groups of people receive the trial vaccine. In Phase II, the clinical study is expanded and vaccine is given to people who have characteristics similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended. In Phase III, the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and safety.

Regulatory review and approval: If a vaccine passes through all three phases of clinical development, the vaccine developer submits a Biologics License Application (BLA) to the licensing authority.

Manufacturing: Major drug manufacturers provide the infrastructure, personnel and equipment necessary to create mass quantities of vaccines.

Quality control: Stakeholders must adhere to procedures that allow them to track whether a vaccine is performing as anticipated.

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are a way to test new methods of diagnosing, treating, or preventing health conditions. The goal is to determine whether something is both safe and effective.

A variety of things are evaluated through clinical trials, including:

  • medications
  • medication combinations
  • new uses for existing medications
  • medical devices

Before doing a clinical trial, investigators conduct preclinical research using human cell cultures or animal models. For example, they might test whether a new medication is toxic to a small sample of human cells in a laboratory.

If the preclinical research is promising, they move forward with a clinical trial to see how well it works in humans. Clinical trials happen in several phases during which different questions are asked. Each phase builds on the results of previous phases.

Keep reading to learn more about what happens during each phase. For this article, we use the example of a new medication treatment going through the clinical trial process.

What happens in phase 0?

Phase 0 of a clinical trial is done with a very small number of people, usually fewer than 15. Investigators use a very small dose of medication to make sure it isn’t harmful to humans before they start using it in higher doses for later phases.

If the medication acts differently than expected, the investigators will likely to do some additional preclinical research before deciding whether to continue the trial.

What happens in phase I?

During phase I of a clinical trial, investigators spend several months looking at the effects of the medication on about 20 to 80 people who have no underlying health conditions.

This phase aims to figure out the highest dose humans can take without serious side effects. Investigators monitor participants very closely to see how their bodies react to the medication during this phase.

While preclinical research usually provides some general information about dosing, the effects of a medication on the human body can be unpredictable.

In addition to evaluating safety and ideal dosage, investigators also look at the best way to administer the drug, such as orally, intravenously, or topically.

According to the FDA, approximately 70 percent Trusted Source of medications move on to phase II

What happens in phase II?

Phase II of a clinical trial involves several hundred participants who are living with the condition that the new medication is meant to treat. They’re usually given the same dose that was found to be safe in the previous phase.

Investigators monitor participants for several months or years to see how effective the medication is and to gather more information about any side effects it might cause.

While phase II involves more participants than earlier phases, it’s still not large enough to demonstrate the overall safety of a medication. However, the data collected during this phase helps investigators come up with methods for conducting phase III.

The FDA estimates that about 33 percent Trusted Source of medications move on to phase III.

What happens in phase III?

Phase III of a clinical trial usually involves up to 3,000 participants who have the condition that the new medication is meant to treat. Trials in this phase can last for several years.

The purpose of phase III is to evaluate how the new medication works in comparison to existing medications for the same condition. To move forward with the trial, investigators need to demonstrate that the medication is at least as safe and effective as existing treatment options.

To do this, investigators use a process called randomization. This involves randomly choosing some participants to receive the new medication and others to receive an existing medication.

Phase III trials are usually double-blind, which means that neither the participant nor the investigator knows which medication the participant is taking. This helps to eliminate bias when interpreting results.

The FDA usually requires a phase III clinical trial before approving a new medication. Due to the larger number of participants and longer duration or phase III, rare and long-term side effects are more likely to show up during this phase.

If investigators demonstrate that the medication is at least as safe and effective as others already on the market, the FDA will usually approve the medication.

Roughly 25 to 30 percent Trusted Source of medications move on to phase IV.

What happens in phase IV?

Phase IV clinical trials happen after the FDA has approved medication. This phase involves thousands of participants and can last for many years.

Investigators use this phase to get more information about the medication’s long-term safety, effectiveness, and any other benefits.

The bottom line

Clinical trials and their individual phases are a very important part of clinical research. They allow the safety and effectiveness of new drugs or treatments to be properly assessed before being approved for use in the general public

Net Present Value (NPV) :

Why in News?

The Union Ministry of Mines had requested the Environment Ministry to exempt it from paying NPV.

However, the Environment Ministry has refused saying that it would be ‘inappropriate’ to grant such an exemption as this was mandated by the Supreme Court.

Why exempt?

All areas of exploration are not converted into mining. Only about 1% cases are converted to mining. Considering these, payment of NPV is regarded as an avoidable expenditure.

Even payment of NPV at a rate of 2% or 5% is one of the major challenges which leads to delay in the exploration/ prospecting activities.

What is NPV?

The Net Present Value (NPV) is a monetary approximation of the value that is lost when a piece of forest land has been razed.

  • This is on the basis of the services and ecological value and there are prescribed formulae for calculating this amount which depends on the location and nature of the forest and the type of industrial enterprise that will replace a particular parcel of forest.
  • It was developed by a committee led by Professor Kanchan Gupta, of the Institute of Economic Growth.

When was it introduced?

To regulate forest diversions, Supreme Court introduced a high ‘net present value’ (NPV) charge on the lands diverted.

Facts for Prelims

Typhoon Haishen:

Recently, Japan was hot by this typhoon.

  • It is categorised as a Category 4 storm which means well-built framed houses can suffer severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and exterior walls.
  • Haishen was a name recommended by China and means “sea god” in Chinese.


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