China has approved the Ad5-nCoV coronavirus vaccine for military use in soldiers stationed in both China and abroad. The vaccine was jointly created by biotech firm CanSino Biologics and the military’s own research group Academy of Military Medical Sciences. Currently, it is not approved for commercial use, and testing phases I and II for the vaccine “only show that the vaccine has the potential to prevent COVID-19.” CanSino is currently conducting clinical trials on patients in Canada as well. Initial trials showed the vaccine was safe and at least partially effective. Currently, at least a dozen other clinical trials are underway for potential vaccines.
Both sides have mixed thoughts on the safety and effectiveness of fast-tracking a vaccine. President Trump is currently overseeing Operation Warp Speed, an initiative to “facilitate and accelerate” vaccine development and distribution, in an effort to have 300 million vaccine doses available by January of next year. Some some vaccine developers cite the risks of vaccine trials that rush through the process, but one research team wrote:
“Such an approach is not without risks, but every week that vaccine rollout is delayed will be accompanied by many thousands of deaths globally.”The Journal of Infectious Diseases research team
Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) and Rep. Donna E. Shallala (D-Fl.) headed up a bi-partisan letter, signed by 35 members of Congress, asking regulators to allow sped up trials for COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, leading infectious disease expert in the US, has said it could take up to a year and a half to safely approve a vaccine, and according to some experts, even that is an underestimation. Other experts believe that rather than speeding up vaccine trials – a process which can often take a decade and has many risks involved – the focus should be on promising coronavirus treatments such as remdesivir and dexamethasone.