How close are we to a vaccine for COVID-19?

How close are we to a vaccine for COVID-19?

A look at the different vaccines under development, and where they are in the pipeline

An effective vaccine against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is everyone’s hope for a real return to normal life. More than 100 teams of scientists around the world are working to develop and test a vaccine against the virus SARS-CoV-2 as quickly as possible. They’re employing a huge variety of strategies and technologies, including some that have never been used in an approved vaccine before.

“It’s a very fascinating and kind of impressive effort,” said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

“It’s absolutely crucial.”

Even in countries that have had a devastating number of deaths from COVID-19, there is nowhere close to a level of “herd immunity” within the population preventing the disease from spreading exponentially if we go back to normal levels of social interaction, she said.

How far are we from the first SARS-CoV-2 vaccine?

Typically, it takes an average of more than 10 years for a vaccine to get from pre-clinical development (including animal testing) through three phases of clinical (human) trials to market registration.

The process has been fast-tracked for COVID-19. The first human vaccine trials began in March, just two months after the virus and disease were identified. And different phases of human trials are being run in an overlapping fashion instead of one at time — for example, Phase 2 might begin just a few weeks after the start of a six-month Phase 1 trial.

Still, officials, including the World Health Organization, have reassured the public that no steps will be skipped. That’s why Russia drew fierce criticism when it announced in mid-August that it was granting regulatory approval to a vaccine developed by Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology after less than two months of human testing, with only two incomplete Phase 1 trials registered with the WHO.

Canada has a notably large number of vaccine candidates registered with the World Health Organization — at least eight.