The Race for a COVID-19 Vaccine
Naturally, every person in the world is hoping to find some sort of treatment or vaccine for the coronavirus so we can protect those we care about and start to return to our normal lives. Initially, a vaccine for COVID-19 was said to take 18 months to develop, test, and distribute. With coronavirus cases and deaths continuing to increase and no definite end in sight, this timeline has been expedited. Officials say that already more than a half-dozen potential vaccines are in the clinical trial phase and over 80 are in the initial phases. Luckily for us, it looks like we have some options that could bring us back to normalcy sooner rather than later.
The United Kingdom has started human trials of a potential coronavirus vaccine developed by scientists at Oxford University as of April 23th, 2020. The potential vaccine stems from a harmless chimpanzee virus, and has shown to be safe and well tolerated in humans. There are small temporary side-effects such as fever, headache, or a sore arm, but these are considered minimal effects compared to the symptoms associated with the coronavirus. Even though this vaccine is being tested, the UK has warned its citizens that social distancing and PPE measures could be necessary through the rest of 2020, that is, unless an effective vaccine or treatment is developed and proven safe before then. If the current trial vaccine is found effective, the UK is hoping to have a million doses ready by September 2020.
A United States pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, has partnered up with a German company, named BioNTech, that’s based in Mainz, Germany. They’re planning to begin human coronavirus vaccine trials in the US by early May, but have already started human testing as of April 23rd, 2020 in Germany. BioNTech is the first company in Germany to get approval to test their potential vaccine on humans. BioNTech said around 200 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years old would be given doses ranging from 1 microgram to 100 micrograms to find the optimal dose for further studies.The two companies claim that their vaccine could be used for emergency doses in the fall. They’re adamant that they can produce millions of doses by the end of the year, and predict that they’ll be able to produce hundreds of millions of doses in 2021.
President Trump decided to make a big bet on Moderna Incorporated, a biotechnology firm, back in early March when they promised that - with proper government funding - they would be able to develop a vaccine rapidly. The company has a spotty track record and has never developed an FDA-approved vaccine before, but the government supplied them with $438 million. Their proposed vaccine would be what is known as a nucleic acid vaccine. No vaccine like this has been approved by the FDA in the past. The company has two Phase 1 trials underway, one at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute and another one at Emory University. Per a company release, Moderna has already applied to move onto a Phase 2 trial by the second quarter of 2020. The release also states that a Phase 3 could begin in Fall 2020, but there’s no guaranteed timeline since there’s no results from the first two trials as of yet.
With stay-at-home orders being lifted and potential vaccines in the works, it looks like theCOVID-19 pandemic is taking a turn for the better. Nevertheless, remember to adamantly practice social distancing everywhere you go, wear personal protective equipment when helpful, and do your part to make sure that we can return to some sort of normalcy again while keeping each other safe.
Picture is provided by The Wall Street Journal.
Article By: Alyssa Crum