Learn how St. Joseph Health is responding to COVID-19. Read More.

Caregiver and Visitor Policy Update. Learn More.


A male nurse prepares the arm of his female patient to receive her COVID-19 vaccine.

This Is How the COVID-19 Vaccine Was Expedited

Apr 14, 2021

Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 is constantly evolving, some information may not be up to date. Stay informed by following information from your local officials and by visiting the CDC website.

Before COVID-19, the fastest vaccine ever developed was the 1960s mumps vaccine, taking only four years. Today, medical experts and doctors globally have united to create the novel coronavirus vaccine, making a daunting task look easy. Thanks to long-standing research, health officials are confident in the safety and efficacy of the new vaccines. Here is how the vaccine was developed so quickly.

1. Existing research set the stage for quick vaccine development.

Long before COVID-19, scientists have been hard at work researching viruses similar to the coronavirus, like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). This research has played a pivotal role in creating the new Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccines

2. Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology is a speedy alternative to traditional vaccines.

Traditional vaccines involve a dead or weakened virus triggering the body's immune system to defend itself and establish immunity. The novel coronavirus vaccines contain no COVID-19 virus but rather utilizes messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology. In order to achieve immunity, this technology uses mRNA to provide instructions to our body's cells. These instructions activate our cells to generate a protein specific to the SARS-CoV-2 virus on the cells' surfaces. After the protein is built, the cells will discard the instructions (mRNA). Producing these types of vaccines is a much quicker and more efficient process.

Infographic about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work, demonstrating how messenger RNA carries a “recipe” to the cells.Infographic about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work, demonstrating how the cells make harmless versions of the spike protein.Infographic about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work, demonstrating how the immune system notices the intruders and creates antibodies designed to neutralize the proteins.Infographic about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work, demonstrating how the antibodies are ready and available if they encounter a COVID-19 virus particle.

3. Sufficient funding for the COVID-19 vaccine means less wait time.

Vaccines must be subject to rigorous testing before being released to the public, which is a costly process. Due to lack of funding, most vaccine testing processes take years. The development of the COVID-19 vaccine, however, was a unique, rapid worldwide effort. With funds designated to U.S. Operation Warp Speed totaling around $10 billion and hefty donations pouring in from various philanthropists worldwide, all testing phases of the vaccine were allowed to run simultaneously instead of sequentially, expediting the testing process.

Getting vaccinated keeps you, your family, and those most vulnerable safe. Request your vaccine and learn more at our COVID-19 Vaccine Hub. St. Joseph Health is a state-designated vaccine hub and administers at the Brazos Center in Bryan



Nature | The lightning-fast quest for COVID vaccines — and what it means for other diseases

MNT | How did we develop a COVID-19 vaccine so quickly?