This question comes up frequently. The truth is that researchers began working on messenger RNA vaccines in the early 1990s.
After years of development and improvement, they launched the first trials:
- In 2008 against certain cancers.
- In 2009 against rabies.
- In 2017 against Zika.
- In 2018 against flu.
- In 2020 against COVID and HIV.
In addition, researchers have known about the coronavirus family since 1965. The SARS-COV2 virus, responsible for COVID, is the cousin of SARS-COV1, which caused the severe acute respiratory syndrome SARS in 2003. With the arrival of the epidemic, laboratories resurrected the vaccine work they had begun at that time and got to work immediately.
An unprecedented worldwide mobilization of countries, laboratories and researchers has made it possible to release considerable technical, human and financial resources (the EU, for example, has invested 2.15 billion euros), accelerating all stages of development. Instead of conducting clinical trials sequentially (one step after the other), these studies were conducted in parallel, almost simultaneously, saving precious time. Finally, the national agencies responsible for marketing authorization accelerated the administrative process from three years to a few weeks.