“Vaccine” is the word everyone is discussing these days. So how are we looking?
First thing to understand: an accelerated schedule does NOT mean less testing is done.
- Potential vaccines will still have to clear all 3 phases of clinical trials. However, any paperwork is being fast tracked and funding is being provided to help speed along these portions.
- Additionally, instead of waiting for a medicine to clear all trials and be approved before beginning production, a promising COVID vaccine possibility will start mass production while still in trials. This means several million doses could be ready to go as soon as they get rubber stamped. (See a quick video about what this looks like here, and play with the graph yourself here.)
- Another way to shorten time to production is relying on previous research in similar diseases. What we learned from SARS (the original) and MERS is useful even though they aren’t exactly the same. Since they are the same class of virus, some of the information is transferable (although COVID-19 is the monster truck version of a coronavirus).
Second, there are over 150 options being considered or tested.
Third, at least one of them has been approved for limited use, and several more are showing significant promise. At least one shows good antibody production in 90-95% of trial participants but lower production in older adults (further studies will be needed to determine if they can resist infection, as none of the participants were exposed after treatment.) And another shows similar results without the decline in older adults, but more adverse reactions.
We’re still several months at best away from large scale trials on most of the possible vaccines, but we have learned a lot about what makes them successful. Hopefully, these cumulative successes will help us find out what we need for a successful vaccine. Meanwhile, wear your mask, wash your hands, and keep 6 feet (or MORE, not less) from people you don’t live with.