Hundreds of research groups are in the race to develop a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. The timeline that many experts are hoping for would be the fastest in history for vaccine trials, cutting the normally years-long process into just months. Hundreds of people are already actively being tested, and hundreds more prepare, as groups roll out various drugs for first stage human-trials. Alongside vaccine trials, scientists are looking into other treatment drugs that could possibly speed up the recovery process of COVID-19 patients.
EXPERTS: Some experts say there is always the chance that a successful vaccine may never be developed, noting that in 1984 after the HIV virus was discovered, it was predicted a vaccine would be ready for trials within two years. Nearly 40 years later, there is still no vaccine. However, more optimistic researchers note that COVID-19 is different from HIV in that it doesn’t mutate nearly as rapidly, making it a much more promising endeavor.
A virologist with the Fudan University in China and the New York Blood Center thinks a vaccine may be possible but says in order to conduct proper safety testing will still require years. He noted that “The public’s willingness to back quarantines and other public-health measures to slow spread tends to correlate with how much people trust the government’s health advice. A rush into potentially risky vaccines and therapies will betray that trust and discourage work to develop better assessments.” He fears that the allure of success and the public’s demand for a cure could cause groups to by-pass safety standards and protocol.
Democrats from the US House of Representatives have criticized the Trump administration’s unwillingness to lift a ban on research that includes human fetal tissue. They wrote in an appeal letter that these restrictions hindered the testing of possible vaccines and treatments, stating “this inaction may ultimately put Americans further at risk of disease or death from COVID-19.” A group of House lawmakers led by Democrats have also called on the administration to allow expedited clinical human-trials and approval process for COVID-19 vaccines.
President Trump announced that he thinks it is highly probable that a vaccine will be developed by the end of the year.