As of September 2020, there were 30 million people worldwide infected with COVID-19.
The world is desperately waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine but there are no definitive answers as to when it’ll be ready for use.
But, it turns out there’s a secret weapon: biotechnology. This new science may help get an effective vaccine faster than anyone ever thought.
Keep reading to discover why biotechnology is important in stopping COVID-19 and the next global virus.
Understanding Why Biotechnology Is Important
The term biotechnology is used often by academics or discussed on the news, but what does it mean exactly?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes it as “the use of living organism/s or their product/s to modify or improve human health and human environment.”
It focuses on combining the principles of engineering and biology to solve a problem.
Biotechnology as we know it today started after the Second World War. Biotechnology companies were later able to develop vaccines and sequence the human genome.
They can even modify crops to be resistant to insects or grow easier in different climates. These are only a few biotechnology examples.
There’s no doubt that biotechnology is often controversial but it may be the one thing that can help with COVID-19.
How Can Biotechnology Help With COVID-19?
Biotechnology has made so many advances in the last decade alone, it could be the factor that gets a vaccine faster. The technologies for sequencing DNA and chemically synthesizing new DNA are now faster and cheaper.
Constructing new viruses in the lab for research is routine for most biotechnology researchers.
The traditional way of making vaccines is slow. Rather than including the whole virus in a vaccine, biotechnology can isolate viral proteins for a vaccine that is just as effective. But, completed in less time.
A safe vaccine is needed sooner rather than later. Roivant Sciences founder and CEO Vivek Ramaswamy said the private sector needs to take the lead on developing new COVD-19 tests and the vaccine.
Barriers to Biotechnology in the 21st Century
As we stated above, many technological barriers to biotechnology have been removed. The issues that remain are mainly social and political.
Even before 2019 when COVID-19 first appeared in Wuhan, China, there had been a growing anti-vaccine movement in the United States. Awareness and trust need to be established before new technologies are unveiled.
Aspects of “cloning” or manipulating genes are controversial. They’ve caused political unrest in the United States. This has resulted in more regulations, which will need to be readdressed.
There is also a need for more qualified university graduates to accept biotechnology careers. The supply of biotechnology jobs will only increase as the industry expands.
Solving COVID-19 and Viruses of the Future
When it comes to new viruses it’s not a question of if, but rather when. Governments around the world need to work with the private sector to quickly develop safe, effective vaccines.
Through this article, we hope you learned why biotechnology is important. Read more of our website for the latest news on healthcare and technology.