On March 16, U.S. researchers began giving volunteers the first dose of an experimental vaccine. In another month, the healthy volunteers will receive a second dose. But don’t expect a vaccine for quite a while, even though, as of April 16, more than 200 programs had been started to help find one. Said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Feb. 26: “Although this is the fastest we have ever gone from a sequence of a virus to a trial, it still would not be applicable to the [pandemic] unless we really wait about a year to a year and a half.”
Scientists have been able to quickly create trial vaccines because the virus’s genetic sequence is already available. Chinese scientists sequenced the genetic material of COVID-19 in January and then shared the research with other groups around the globe.
On April 2, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine scientists said that a vaccine they had developed produced the kind of antibodies that could stop COVID-19. It’s only been tested on mice thus far—which doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in humans—but one professor said, “We’re ready to initiate clinical trials as soon as we are able to meet the necessary requirements.”
On April 13, the WHO said 70 coronavirus vaccines were in development.
On May 7, the FDA gave approval to Moderna, the biotech company that began testing patients in Seattle in mid-March, to begin the next phase of its vaccine development. Phase 2 will include testing 600 volunteers for efficacy and side effects of the potential vaccine. It’s possible the third phase of the development could begin in the summer of 2020.
On May 18, Moderna announced that early results from its first phase had shown positive results.
But others said a coronavirus vaccine might actually take years.
“I think the goal of 18 months is one that will be very, very difficult to achieve,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said, via USA Today. “But it just may be our moon shot.”
The fastest a vaccine has ever been developed was four years for the mumps.
In mid-August, Russia said it had developed a vaccine, but much of the rest of the world was suspicious. Meanwhile, a number of other vaccine trials have entered Phase 3 of testing.
Read more on the coronavirus vaccine:
- How the anti-vax movement could ruin the chances for a successful coronavirus vaccine
- Can the government (or your employer) force you to get a coronavirus vaccination?
- Russia says it has developed a coronavirus vaccine, but experts are suspicious
- Will the coronavirus vaccine be free for Americans?
- The coronavirus vaccine will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make—here’s why
- Will vaccine nationalism prevent the world from stopping the coronavirus?
- Even a successful COVID-19 vaccine might not end the pandemic
- Until now, what’s the quickest a vaccine has ever been developed?