The Race to Save Lives: Comparing Vaccine Development Timelines

Major advancements in medicine have led to a significant increase in average life expectancy, with vaccines being hailed as one of the most successful interventions to date.

In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that vaccines have prevented 10 million deaths between 2010 and 2015 alone. But while some were created and distributed in just over four months, others have taken over 40 years to develop. Then again, previous pandemics have petered out without any vaccine at all.

In this graphic, we explore how long it has historically taken to bring a vaccine to market during pandemics dating back to the 1900s, and what the process entails.

Visualization type: Timeline, bubble chart

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The Race to Save Lives: Comparing Vaccine Development Timelines

Major advancements in medicine have led to a significant increase in average life expectancy, with vaccines being hailed as one of the most successful interventions to date.

In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that vaccines have prevented 10 million deaths between 2010 and 2015 alone. But while some were created and distributed in just over four months, others have taken over 40 years to develop. Then again, previous pandemics have petered out without any vaccine at all.

With approved COVID-19 vaccines soon to be distributed across the globe, the vaccine development process is being scrutinized by experts (and non-experts) the world over.

In this graphic, we explore how long it has historically taken to bring a vaccine to market during pandemics dating back to the 1900s, and what the process entails.


First published: December 19, 2020 (link)

Source files included: .ai, .eps, .psd, .pdf

Data source: CDC, Scientific American, Online Med Ed, StatNews, UBC, Healthline, WHO, Worldometer, COVID Vaccine Tracker, History of Vaccines, Sanofi, The OCR, Our World in Data, Aidsmap

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