Identifying the virus that causes the disease
Research technicians work to sequence the virus so that we understand how it works and how it can be treated. Viruses like the flu or the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, often have the ability to mutate. To respond to this, virus sequencing must be carried out regularly to ensure that effective treatments are created against all mutations of the virus.
“It has been very important to me to feel like I can help to make a difference during these challenging times.”
Designing the vaccine
Vaccines can be designed in a variety of ways. Once research teams have designed a vaccine they believe to be effective, they need to know how it can be administered and produced. After this the vaccine goes through a series of checks, tests and trials before it is eventually tested on human volunteers in clinical trials.
Research technicians, like Helen, are key to the success of clinical trials. She is responsible for organising and analysing the samples from clinical trial volunteers.
Credit: David Levene/ the Guardian
One of my main tasks is checking that we have enough laboratory chemicals for our experiments. Because this is the largest trial we have ever done we have been going through our consumables much faster than usual. Many of the companies that we order from have been working with reduced staff so things can take a little longer to arrive.
If the trials are successful, the vaccine is approved and licensed, before being manufactured at scale so it can be received by all that need it.