The race to create a COVID-19 vaccine: 5 updates

Maia Anderson - Print  | 

A vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is being developed in record time, with only 63 days between the time researchers identified the genetic sequence of the virus to the time the first vaccine candidate was injected into a human, according to USA Today.

There were 60 vaccine candidates in preclinical trials and two in clinical trials as of April 4, according to the World Health Organization

Still, it will likely be at least 18 months until a vaccine becomes available to the general public, experts say. 

Five updates on the efforts to create a COVID-19 vaccine: 

  1. Two vaccines are now being tested on humans, one developed by Moderna and one by Inovio Pharmaceuticals. Moderna began testing its vaccine on humans March 16 at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle and Emory University in Atlanta in a trial with 45 healthy adult volunteers. Inovio began human testing April 6 in a trial that will include 40 healthy volunteers, according to The Hill. The trial will take place in both Philadelphia and Kansas City, Mo., and data is expected to be available by late summer.

  2. Moderna's vaccine may be used in healthcare workers as soon as this fall if it receives emergency use authorization from the FDA, Bloomberg reported. The vaccine would not be available to the public for at least a year, but most likely closer to 18 months. Moderna used what is called messenger RNA to develop its vaccine, which causes cells to produce proteins that could lead to immunity, according to Stat. It is a quicker way to make a vaccine than traditional methods, but it could take 18 months to make sure the approach works and is safe.

  3. Johnson & Johnson is working with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, to develop a vaccine that it says could be ready in early 2021, The Wall Street Journal reported. The drugmaker said it plans to start human trials by September at the latest and said it could get emergency use authorization to make it available to the public by early next year. J&J said if the vaccine is successful it will sell it on a not-for-profit basis, according to the Journal.

  4. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is also working to develop a potential vaccine and has already tested a vaccine candidate in mice. The vaccine was delivered to mice through a fingertip-sized patch, and it produces antibodies that researchers said they believe could neutralize the virus.

  5. The coronavirus isn't mutating quickly, so a single vaccine could be effective rather than making a new one every year, as is done with the flu, The Washington Post reported. Every virus mutates as it replicates itself while spreading through a population. But because the coronavirus isn't mutating quickly, that suggests it is less likely to become more dangerous as it spreads, according to the Post, and that one vaccine could be effective for a long time.

More articles on pharmacy:
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Walgreens adds 6 COVID-19 safety measures to protect workers
2 East Coast pharmacy schools graduating students early to fight COVID-19

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