Global race on for a vaccine | Daily News


 

Global race on for a vaccine

The coronavirus pandemic has set off an unprecedented global scramble for a vaccine.

There are more than 100 potential vaccine candidates, according to the World Health Organization, but only eight have entered the crucial clinical trials stage. Four are in the United States and Europe, with the rest in China.

“I can never remember anything like this,” Walter Orenstein, associate director of the vaccine center at Emory University in Atlanta, said of the number of vaccines being developed to tackle one disease. “Hopefully, at least one and hopefully more than one will prove to be safe and effective.”

None have yet gone through the full trials needed to show that they are safe and effective.

While a range of extraordinary measures -- imposing stay-at-home orders, testing millions of people, wearing masks and social distancing -- can help slow the spread of the virus, experts say the key to getting completely back to normal is having a safe and effective vaccine that’s widely available.

Some researchers involved in the process say that in a best-case scenario, the first doses of a vaccine could be ready in September or October -- far faster than any vaccine has ever been developed. The process usually takes years. President Trump is projecting confidence on getting a vaccine quickly, saying it’s a top priority. “We think we’re going to have a vaccine by the end of this year,” he said at a Fox News town hall last week. “And we’re pushing very hard.”

The U.S. vaccine efforts are more likely to be made available to Americans first.

New technologies are helping speed the process along at a rate much faster than the traditional method of giving someone a weakened version of the virus. For example, new technology uses RNA or DNA to code for a part of the virus to trigger an immune response that offers protection.

But that technology has never been used on a wide scale for an approved vaccine, adding to the uncertainty.

And given the logistical challenges of mass production, some companies are already preparing to ramp up manufacturing for millions of doses, even before knowing whether their potential vaccine is effective. (The Hill)


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