A COVID-19 vaccine could be ready earlier than we think, even by the end of 2020. Dr. Anthony Fauci has said he is “cautiously optimistic” that we will have a vaccine approved by the end of 2020. “I don’t think it’s dreaming,” he said.
If a vaccine is ready by the end of the year, it could be distributed by 2021.
Typically, vaccines can take years to develop. But several COVID-19 vaccines are in the works and close to being ready. Moderna is working with the National Institutes of Health to launch a Phase 3 trial on their vaccine to determine safety and effectiveness.
There are at least five other vaccines with which the government is actively working in Phase 3 trials, with over $6 billion in government funds invested in vaccines. The reasons these vaccines are being developed so quickly include new advances in technology, the elimination of red tape that would normally be in place, and the ability of humans’ immune systems to respond to COVID-19.
The FDA will still need to approve the final vaccine, and it is likely that essential workers, front-line healthcare workers, and people who are immunocompromised will have first access to the vaccine.
Potential vaccine drawbacks
Since scientists are still working to understand the virus, there are still many unknowns. Researchers are still not sure how long antibodies for coronavirus last, hence even with a vaccine people would still need to practice social distancing and wear masks.
After the new Moderna Phase 3 trial is over, health experts will have a better idea of how long protective antibodies last. There is always the possibility of using a booster shot in case the vaccine wears off.
Another complication lies in the fact that some people do not produce antibodies for coronavirus when they get it. Usually, the more severe the case, the more antibodies one produces. However, studies have shown that the amount of antibodies drops off over time. The more researchers learn about COVID-19, the more mysteries they uncover and the more they realize the ways it does not act like other typical viruses.
The first vaccine approved may not be the one that ultimately works the best. Time and research will tell which shot is most effective, and there may be a different one that works better for children.
To sign up to participate in a clinical trial. Visit CoronavirusPreventionNetwork.org.