A vaccine that could be effective against COVID-19 may be available sooner than expected.
According to New York Medical College Professor Dr. Bob Lahita, there are “encouraging developments” toward a vaccine for the new coronavirus that mean it could be available in the United States as early as the winter. While that may still seem a long ways away, it is significantly less than the 1 to 2 years it usually takes to bring a vaccine to market.
Appearing on Fox News’ special coverage with host Trace Gallagher, Lahita – who is also the chairman of medicine at St. Joseph University Hospital – said that while this is the fastest vaccine responses he’s seen “coming to fruition,” there are many more phases that must be completed before anything can be distributed.
“But it is, very, very, encouraging,” he remarked.
“I think that we are very realistically looking at early fall,” said Lahita. “I thought the vaccine would not be available till late November maybe early December. But, with what’s going on now with Phase One and that fact that we are really rushing this through — and believe me, we have a lot of regulations to overcome for a new vaccine — I think we’re…we should be very encouraged that we’re going to see something probably in the early Winter being, November, December.”
Speaking during a national news conference at the White House earlier this week, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci reported a “Phase One” trial of a vaccine was implemented after just 65 days.
Thus far, there are more than 183,000 confirmed cases worldwide with more than 7,100 deaths. The United States now has more than 4,600 cases with at least 85 deaths reported.
On Monday, March 16, the first-ever clinical trial for the vaccine began. Four volunteer participants were given injections of a vaccine created by Moderna Inc. in collaboration with the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) and NIAID.
Phase 1 of the study is intended to test the safety of three dose levels of the new vaccine — mRNA-1273 — named after the genetic material that makes up the injections and which researchers say can produce a vaccine very quickly.
“This study is the first step in the clinical development of an mRNA vaccine” against coronavirus, said Dr. Tal Zaks, chief medical officer at Moderna, in a statement.
The trial will include 45 healthy adults ages 18 to 55. Each participant will receive two shots, 28 days apart. Three different doses will be tested on 15 people each and the participants will be studied to determine whether the vaccine is safe.
Modena said in a press release on Monday that they are “actively preparing” for Phase 2 of testing, which would test for the effectiveness of the drug.