Coronavirus vaccines are on the rise, offering hope for a world rocked by pandemics, but how quickly they will be available is still unclear, USC experts say. Here’s a look at how vaccines for COVID 19 are found, where they are developed, who tests them where, and when scientists think they might be ready for widespread use as we know it.
Preclinical means the vaccine is not ready for human trials, so this column shows how far it has already come.
The first vaccine trial is expected to bring an FDA-approved vaccine – the bulk won’t be available until the fall, Graham said. To have the best chance of developing the vaccine quickly, experts should first develop a vaccine against a family of viruses that can infect humans, he said. Some experts have suggested that human trials could be completed by the end of the 2020s, but the vaccines will not arrive until the spring of 2021 at the earliest. But experts told CNN that given the current state and time frame of the studies, it is highly unlikely that vaccines will be ready for use by then.
The Phase 1 trials give a good idea of how much vaccine is needed, but few healthy volunteers receive the vaccine initially. It will then take time to determine whether more people in the placebo group will receive the COVID-19 vaccine than the group, a sign that the vaccines are working.
Clinical trials will determine whether only one vaccine is needed or whether we need a new vaccine in a double-hard flu season. While at this point, several vaccines will probably be available, it is possible that some vaccines may require only one dose, while others may require two doses. Others will depend on the vaccine, but we can foresee what we need while we wait for the vaccines
If we have a COVID-19 vaccine, billions of doses will have to be produced to cover a large part of the world’s population and ensure herd immunity that curbs the spread of viruses. It will take time (hopefully more than one vaccine) to vaccinate all people who need vaccination, because a single vaccine manufacturer will not be able to meet global demand for vaccines quickly. If we had a COVID19 vaccine, billions of these doses would have to be produced in large enough quantities to cover a large part of the world’s population and provide herd immunity to contain the spread of the virus.
Therefore, it is likely that one or more vaccines will be available before this vaccine is ever produced. One might ask whether a vaccine currently under preclinical testing might help in the current pandemic, but, given what we now know about the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, we may have to take a more cautious approach. It is really good that several vaccine candidates are being developed, because if we have this type of vaccine by the early 2021, it may be able to provide long-term immune protection for a much longer period than a single vaccine.
How quickly scientists can determine the vaccine’s effectiveness depends on how many more transmission routes there are and how long it can protect against it. Hill estimates that by the end of this year, scientists may have enough data to decide whether or not to use the vaccine in a mass vaccination campaign. The Covid-19 vaccine is like a flu vaccine in that it prevents infections in only a few people, but only fends off serious diseases and still makes them contagious. A close cousin of the COVID-19 virus, including the seasonal coronavirus that causes the common cold, suggests that the COVID-19 vaccine could provide lifelong protection, though more research is needed to understand how well and for how long this potential vaccine could work. That is, the head of a company working on developing an effective vaccine told a radio station that he believes his vaccine can only provide protection for a year, and that says a lot for a vaccine that could not provide protection after just a year.
Realistically, it will take 12 to 18 months or more for the vaccine to be developed and tested in human clinical trials. Moreover, long-term investment in development is needed, as vaccines can be modified if the virus mutates. Manufacturers can only start producing a vaccine once they have completed large Phase III clinical trials and have a large number of doses ready when the vaccine is proven safe and effective. The governments must invest heavily in potential vaccine candidates to account for manufacturing risks, such as building production sites and producing vaccine doses, once it is known that the vaccines are working.
While many infection experts argue that the vaccine itself could be available as early as 2021, some optimists believe that even 18 months after the first vaccine, there is an incredibly aggressive timetable. Even if the infected people appear to be protected for at least 6-12 months, those who have been infected during this period must be vaccinated when the COVID-19 vaccine is available for the first time. The leading vaccine manufacturers predict that hundreds of millions of doses could be ready for use by the end of 2020, and that all of the promised doses will be free or inexpensive for all Americans. Once the vaccines are finally approved, it does not mean that they will be immediately available to everyone who receives them.