How long will it take to get a coronavirus vaccine?

Although about dozens of academic institutions and companies are attempting to create a coronavirus vaccine, it could be 12-18 months before it could be ready for the general public. 

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:

Sources: John Hopkins, The Guardian, World Health Organization, Associated Press, Washington Post, The Guardian, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Bloomberg, USA Today Live Science

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