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Welcome to the Course

An introduction to week 1 and the overall course. Rajeka Lazarus gives a video introduction. This week's learning objectives are summarised.
Hello, my name is Rajeka Lazarus. And I’m here to welcome you to the BSAC course on finding a vaccine for COVID-19 and future pandemics. It is widely recognised that safe, effective vaccines are needed to bring the current pandemic under control. And the search for those vaccines is a global priority. Over the next few weeks, we will be learning how vaccines are developed, tested, and delivered. We will be focusing on COVID-19 vaccines but will apply some of the principles we discuss to other infectious diseases. We do hope that you will enjoy the course.

Welcome to this course on vaccines; their development and their impact on infectious diseases. The course has been developed by experts in infection and vaccinology.

Over the next three weeks we will take a look at vaccine development in response to infectious disease outbreaks. We will learn more about the development and manufacturing process as well as the challenges faced along the way. Most notably, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic will be discussed and we will look at the progression of vaccine candidates currently proposed to tackle the disease. We will examine how we know if vaccines are safe and effective, how they’ve been successful in tackling pandemics in the past, and how we can prepare for future disease outbreaks.

In this first week we will discuss why we need a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the challenges that are faced when developing new vaccines, and how new vaccines are made. By the end of the week you will:

  • Understand the critical need for a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Be able to describe the characteristics of an ideal vaccine and why they are difficult to develop.
  • Understand the vaccine development process including vaccine manufacture.

Information and science surrounding COVID-19 is constantly evolving and changing. We will try and keep this course as updated as possible, however please bear this in mind as you work your way through.

A glossary for this course can be found in the downloads section below.

Using FutureLearn courses

If you are new to FutureLearn courses, click here for a guide on how to engage with the course. Learners are encouraged to introduce themselves and to participate in course discussions and quizzes. Any comments left by users can be viewed by all learners. We encourage you to interact with other learners by ‘liking’ and replying to their comments.

Learners can also upgrade to have:

  • Unlimited access to the course: Go at your own pace with unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn.
  • A Certificate of Achievement: To help you demonstrate your learning we’ll send you a Certificate of Achievement when you become eligible – this can go towards CPD points.

We understand that vaccines surrounding COVID-19 has the potential to be a contentious topic. Before we begin, we would like to remind you of FutureLearn’s Code of Conduct which should be considered before participating in the discussions throughout this course.

This course has been approved by The Royal College of Pathologists at a level of 6 credits. The RCPath CPD approval process is in line with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges standards and criteria for CPD activities framework guidance. Reciprocity has been agreed between colleges/faculties for all approved activities.

Please note all who submit their details to the RCP to claim CPD, agree that FutureLearn may need to share their data, including their progress on the course, with RCP for the purposes of auditing / offering CPD.


We hope you find this course useful and enjoy learning about vaccine development! We value your input and encourage you to let us know your opinions in the comments as you go along.

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Vaccine Development: Finding a Vaccine for COVID-19 and Future Pandemics

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