Video: COVID-19 Why it Matters, Part 9: What is the science behind a vaccine?

This video series features UW-Green Bay’s Immunologist Brian Merkel on COVID-19 and Why it Matters. This series empowers viewers with knowledge to help them navigate through the pandemic. Merkel has a Ph.D. in Microbiology & Immunology from the Medical College of Virginia. He is an associate professor in UW-Green Bay’s Human Biology & Biology programs and has an appointment at the Medical College of Wisconsin Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He will be responding to a number of questions related to COVID19 and try to get behind the “why” it’s important to be educated in your decision-making as we navigate the pandemic together.

Video Transcript – COVID-19 Why it Matters, Part 9: What is the science behind a vaccine?

Hi, I’m Brian Merkel, Immunology at UW-Green Bay, and we’re here to talk about Why COVID-19 matters to you.

One of the questions I think that’s looming, that’s on the mind of a lot of people, is when is the vaccine for COVID-19 going to be available? And I think one of the things that we come to realize is that making a vaccine is a difficult and arduous task and it takes a long time. Now I can explain the reasons behind that; it has everything to do with how science works and the value of science. One of the things that science does especially with developing a vaccine, like the one for COVID-19, is to vet that very very carefully, and that’s what the scientific process does.

We want to make sure that the vaccine, in this case, is safe and we want to make sure that it does what we want it to do, and then finally we want to make sure that it’s generally applicable to anyone that gets it. That it does work for everyone. So, the way that this is done is through a double-blind randomized study and it’s done through three trials.

It’s an arduous task on purpose. All vaccines or drugs go through this very meticulous grueling process because we want them to be safe. The great thing about a double-blind study is that if I’m the investigator or I’m the scientist that has created this vaccine, I don’t know who’s getting the vaccine, they don’t know who’s getting the vaccine, I don’t know who’s getting the placebo, they don’t know who’s getting the placebo. We call that a double-blind study because I’m blind to who’s getting what as are, they. That’s on purpose because that takes away bias on their side, bias on my side.

At the end of the day when the study is done, we analyze the data without any bias whatsoever, and then only after the analysis, do we disclose which group received the vaccine, which group received the placebo.

We circle back to why is vaccine development so arduous? It’s because we want it to work and we want it to be safe. So, by design the scientific method in order to do all those things, which we want, it takes a long time.

COVID-19 Why it Matters: Video Series:

Introduction with Brian Merkel

Part 1: What are viruses and where did this one come from

Part 2: Two main types of viruses

Part 3: Why is this virus serious?

Part 4: Why wash hands/wear mask?

Part 5: I’m young! Why should I care?

Part 6: Can pandemics be stopped before they start?

Part 7: Pandemic is not local, why wear a mask?

Part 8: Why does everyone need a flu shot this year?

Part 9: What is the science behind a vaccine?

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