Paper $15.00 ISBN: 9780226792514 Published April 2021
E-book $14.99 About E-books ISBN: 9780226792651 Published April 2021 Also Available From
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How to Make a Vaccine

An Essential Guide for COVID-19 and Beyond

John Rhodes

How to Make a Vaccine

John Rhodes

184 pages | 1 table | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper $15.00 ISBN: 9780226792514 Published April 2021
E-book $14.99 About E-books ISBN: 9780226792651 Published April 2021
Distinguished expert in vaccine development John Rhodes tells the story of the first approved COVID-19 vaccines and offers an essential, up-to-the-minute primer on how scientists discover, test, and distribute vaccines.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every corner of the world, changing our relationship to our communities, to our jobs, and to each other, the most pressing question has been—when will it end? Researchers around the globe are urgently trying to answer this question by racing to test and distribute a vaccine that could end the greatest public health threat of our time.  In How to Make a Vaccine, an expert who has firsthand experience developing vaccines tells an optimistic story of how three hundred years of vaccine discovery and a century and a half of immunology research have come together at this powerful moment—and will lead to multiple COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. John Rhodes draws on his experience as an immunologist, including working alongside a young Anthony Fauci, to unravel the mystery of how vaccines are designed, tested, and produced at scale for global deployment. Concise and accessible, this book describes in everyday language how the immune system evolved to combat infection, how viruses responded by evolving ways to evade our defenses, and how vaccines do their work. That history, and the pace of current research developments, make Rhodes hopeful that multiple vaccines will protect us. Today the complex workings of the immune system are well understood. The tools needed by biomedical scientists stand ready to be used, and more than 160 vaccine candidates have already been produced. But defeating COVID-19 won’t be the end of the story: Rhodes describes how discoveries today are also empowering scientists to combat future threats to global health, including a recent breakthrough in the development of genetic vaccines, which have never before been used in humans.

As the world prepares for a vaccine, Rhodes offers a current and informative look at the science and strategies that deliver solutions to the crisis.


1. Understand the Virus
2. Explore the Immune System
3. Discover a Vaccine
4. Develop Vaccines
5. Evaluate the Contenders
6. Don’t Count on the Magic Bullet
7. Overcome the Hurdles
8. Embrace Many Solutions

Appendix: COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates
Further Reading

Review Quotes
"A go-to guide for non-experts on vaccine development."
"Skilfully pitched at non-specialists."
The Inquisitive Biologist

"At a time when online searches for books on vaccines are more likely to turn up misinformation than reliable literature, How to Make a Vaccine is a required primer that demystifies concepts and gives an informative overview of how vaccines are developed and how they work. An essential guide indeed."

Daniel M. Davis, author of The Beautiful Cure
“A great book for those wanting to know the background. Rhodes covers many fascinating details in immunology and the history of vaccine discoveries, as well as the basic science behind the development of COVID-19 vaccines, a topic which couldn’t be more important.”
Eddy Liew, University of Glasgow
“Rhodes is undoubtedly the right person to offer this timely and excellent explanation of a very topical story of great public interest. He is not only a well-respected immunologist, but also has personal experience in vaccine development.”
Sarah Gilbert, University of Oxford
"This concise book is wide-ranging in the topics covered; from the history of immunology and vaccinology to the early development of multiple COVID-19 vaccines. It explains many of the areas of vaccine development that are rarely discussed, leaving the public wondering what takes so long, and reminds us that vaccines are a wise investment for both our own health and that of the economy."
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