- Experts predict we will have to wait from several months up to more than a year before the vaccination starts.
- Several groups around the globe are currently in the race for developing the vaccine.
- Some experts say we need to be cautious and to avoid developing the vaccine in rush as it could potentially cause more harm than good.
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a group of viruses that can cause illness manifesting as the usual cold or more severe, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Since 2003, there have been three outbreaks of the more severe diseases but were ultimately put under control. The new strain of the virus, a novel coronavirus (COVID-19), is currently spreading around the globe. The outbreak started in China and is now spreading in Europe and the U.S. The outbreak has not been categorized as a pandemic, at least not yet. Still, there are two essential aspects of COVID-19, which is the strain of the virus that is entirely new and has not been seen in humans. In other words, vaccination has not been developed yet. This is the question on everyone’s mind right now: when will the vaccination be developed and available? Currently, the World Health Organization says that there are more than 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
In the past 20 years, we have seen a significant change in developing vaccines. Thanks to government funding and technological advancements, the period of developing and implementing a vaccine is now drastically shorter. The race for developing the COVID-19 vaccine is on. Still, the majority of scientific experts agree that the vaccine probably will not be developed in time for the current outbreak. Even if it was, it is important to remember that the vaccine cannot cure those infected with the virus. It can only be used as a tool in the prevention of spreading the outbreak.
Vaccine Development Groups
When the news about the Chinese outbreak was revealed, several groups started working on the vaccine. Three of these groups are under particular pressure in the race as they are funded by CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations). CEPI is a non-profit organization in Oslo, Norway, which was founded to help prepare for future world pandemics. Since the corona outbreak, CEPI has spent more than $19 million on research and vaccine development groups. All eyes are now on two groups funded by CEPI: a biotech startup Moderna Therapeutics (based in Massachusetts) and a lab at the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia). Both groups stated last month that they have developed a vaccine candidate. They plan to start testing in human trials throughout the next few months. Moderna recently sent the vaccine to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The clinical trial is expected to start by the end of April. So far, it has been revealed that 45 volunteers will be admitted in the trial. They must be healthy and of ages between eighteen and 55. Still, there is a long way between the clinical testing to actual implementation. In the U.S., scientific experts have claimed that it is difficult to imagine the vaccine being clinically ready and licensed for implementation in the next year and a half.
Several Months to a Year
At this point, it is hard to say when the vaccine will be available. In the best-case scenario, experts are estimating it will take at least several months. On the other hand, some experts call for a more realistic approach and predict we will wait for the vaccine for at least a year.