Ask Dr. Nandi: 70 coronavirus vaccines are under development, with 3 in human trials, WHO says

Posted at 5:59 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 17:59:33-04

(WXYZ) — Scientists around the world are racing to find a cure for the coronavirus. Seventy vaccines are in development. And three have made it to the testing stage in human trials.

I wouldn’t say there is a frontrunner yet. But there is one experimental vaccine that is further along than the others. It’s developed by CanSino Biologics and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. And right now it’s in phase two.

There are a total of three clinical trial phases set forth by the World Health Organization when it comes to human subjects. And it’s to make sure that a potential vaccine is well tested and assessed for safety before drugmakers can submit an application for approval.

Now, just because an experimental drug has made it to phase two, does not guarantee that it will work. So it’s good that there are many other vaccines under development.

Question: The other two that are in human trials are being developed by US drugmakers, what can you tell us about them?

Inovio Pharmaceuticals began it’s trials last week. While another company Moderna began its human trials back in March. The vaccines are being tested first in folks who are considered low-risk individuals and overall are in good health.

The trial sizes are small ranging between 40 and 45 participants. The scientists will be closely monitoring the results, looking to see if their vaccines provoke an effective immune response in the participants.

They’ll also watch for side effects and how well it’s being tolerated. Then, if all goes well, the vaccine will move into stage two and stage three. Which involve larger sample sizes, a more diverse population and a longer observation period.

Question: Will the vaccines still take a year before they’re on the market?

A year may seem like a long time, but in reality, these vaccines are moving along at lightning speed. Years of animal trials are being skipped.

In fact, it typically takes between 10 and 15 years for a vaccine to hit the market. But we’re in unprecedented times, with a deadly virus that has already killed thousands of people worldwide. So finding a vaccine is a very urgent public health priority.

At the same time, we also need to make sure that people’s health and safety are never compromised.

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