- The world didn’t “invent a COVID vaccine in one year.” You’re not seeing the years of research that went into a SARS vaccine. SARS is also caused by a coronavirus, so much of that research could be used against SARS-CoV-2.
- New technology. Why did it take seven hours to render one frame of video when Toy Story came out, but now it can be done in a minute? New technology. The COVID vaccine is the world’s first mRNA vaccine. mRNA vaccines are a new technology that allows us to make safer vaccines faster than the old-fashioned system of using attenuated or inactivated viruses.
- Huge money. You can sometimes speed up research by throwing money at it. Most vaccine research programs are underfunded and understaffed. This one wasn’t. You’d be surprised how many problems are soluble in a solution of Benjamins.
- Testing a vaccine for efficacy is easier during a pandemic. Efficacy tests are cohort tests. You give half your sample group a placebo and half a vaccine and then wait. At the end of a period of time, you see how many people in each group have become infected with the disease agent. If the disease is rare, this takes a lot more time than if the disease is common. The more virulent the disease, all other things being equal, and the more widespread the disease, the faster this study can be done, because the more opportunities there are for people to contract the disease.