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A COVID‑19 vaccine is a vaccine intended to provide acquired immunity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19). Prior to the COVID‑19 pandemic, an established body of knowledge existed about the structure and function of coronaviruses causing diseases like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). This knowledge accelerated the development of various vaccine platforms during early 2020. The initial focus of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines was on preventing symptomatic, often severe illness. On 10 January 2020, the SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequence data was shared through GISAID, and by 19 March, the global pharmaceutical industry announced a major commitment to address COVID-19. The COVID‑19 vaccines are widely credited for their role in reducing the spread, severity, and death caused by COVID-19. In Phase III trials, several COVID‑19 vaccines have demonstrated efficacy as high as 95% in preventing symptomatic COVID‑19 infections. Twenty vaccines are authorized by at least one national regulatory authority for public use: two RNA vaccines (Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna), nine conventional inactivated vaccines (BBIBP-CorV, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, CoronaVac, Covaxin, CoviVac, COVIran Barakat, Minhai-Kangtai, QazVac, and WIBP-CorV), five viral vector vaccines (Sputnik Light, Sputnik V, Oxford–AstraZeneca, Convidecia, and Janssen), and four protein subunit vaccines (Abdala, EpiVacCorona, MVC-COV1901, Soberana 02, and ZF2001).[5][6] In total, 330 vaccine candidates are in various stages of development, with 102 in clinical research, including 30 in Phase I trials, 30 in Phase I–II trials, 25 in Phase III trials, and 8 in Phase IV development. Many countries have implemented phased distribution plans that prioritize those at highest risk of complications, such as the elderly, and those at high risk of exposure and transmission, such as healthcare workers. Single dose interim use is under consideration to extend vaccination to as many people as possible until vaccine availability improves. As of 16 August 2021, 4.76 billion doses of COVID‑19 vaccine have been administered worldwide based on official reports from national public health agencies. AstraZeneca anticipates producing 3 billion doses in 2021, Pfizer–BioNTech 1.3 billion doses, and Sputnik V, Sinopharm, Sinovac, and Janssen 1 billion doses each. Moderna targets producing 600 million doses and Convidecia 500 million doses in 2021. By December 2020, more than 10 billion vaccine doses had been preordered by countries, with about half of the doses purchased by high-income countries comprising 14% of the world's population. Background Prior to COVID‑19, a vaccine for an infectious disease had never been produced in less than several years – and no vaccine existed for preventing a coronavirus infection in humans. However, vaccines have been produced against several animal diseases caused by coronaviruses, including (as of 2003) infectious bronchitis virus in birds, canine coronavirus, and feline coronavirus. Previous projects to develop vaccines for viruses in the family Coronaviridae that affect humans have been aimed at severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Vaccines against SARS and MERS have been tested in non-human animals. According to studies published in 2005 and 2006, the identification and development of novel vaccines and medicines to treat SARS was a priority for governments and public health agencies around the world at that time. There is no cure or protective vaccine proven to be safe and effective against SARS in humans.[24][25] There is also no proven vaccine against MERS.[26] When MERS became prevalent, it was believed that existing SARS research might provide a useful template for developing vaccines and therapeutics against a MERS-CoV infection. As of March 2020, there was one (DNA-based) MERS vaccine which completed Phase I clinical trials in humans, and three others in progress, all being viral-vectored vaccines: two adenoviral-vectored (ChAdOx1-MERS, BVRS-GamVac) and one MVA-vectored (MVA-MERS-S). Vaccine types At least nine different technology platforms are under research and development to create an effective vaccine against COVID‑19.[5][31] Most of the platforms of vaccine candidates in clinical trials are focused on the coronavirus spike protein and its variants as the primary antigen of COVID‑19 infection.[31] Platforms being developed in 2020 involved nucleic acid technologies (nucleoside-modified messenger RNA and DNA), non-replicating viral vectors, peptides, recombinant proteins, live attenuated viruses, and inactivated viruses.[17][31][32][33] Many vaccine technologies being developed for COVID‑19 are not like vaccines already in use to prevent influenza, but rather are using "next-generation" strategies for precise targeting of COVID‑19 infection mechanisms. Several of the synthetic vaccines use a 2P mutation to lock the spike protein into its prefusion configuration, stimulating an adaptive immune response to the virus before it attaches to a human cell. Vaccine platforms in development may improve flexibility for antigen manipulation, and effectiveness for targeting mechanisms of COVID‑19 infection in susceptible population subgroups, such as healthcare workers, the elderly, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems. RNA vaccines Several COVID-19 vaccines, including the Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, have been developed to use RNA to stimulate an immune response. When introduced into human tissue, the RNA contained in the vaccine acts as messenger RNA (mRNA) to cause cells to build the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This teaches the body how to identify and destroy the corresponding pathogen. RNA vaccines often, but not always, use nucleoside-modified messenger RNA. The delivery of mRNA is achieved by a coformulation of the molecule into lipid nanoparticles which protect the RNA strands and help their absorption into the cells. RNA vaccines were the first COVID‑19 vaccines to be authorized in the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. Authorized vaccines of this type are the Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The CVnCoV RNA vaccine from CureVac failed in clinical trails. Severe allergic reactions are rare. In December 2020, 1,893,360 first doses of Pfizer–BioNTech COVID‑19 vaccine administration resulted in 175 cases of severe allergic reaction, of which 21 were anaphylaxis. For 4,041,396 Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine dose administrations in December 2020 and January 2021, only ten cases of anaphylaxis were reported. The lipid nanoparticles were most likely responsible for the allergic reactions.