Is A COVID-19 Vaccine In Sight?

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: May 26, 2020

As states reopen and communities come back together, there are fears that the spread of COVID-19 could increase once again. As such, the pressure is mounting for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine to drive widespread immunity and reduce the likelihood of a second wave. While the situation is ever-evolving, there does appear to be progress underway and some hopeful vaccine candidates in the pipeline.

The first Phase 1 human trials began enrolling participants in March. In Phase 1 trials, a small number of subjects are given a vaccine to test whether it causes adverse reactions and if it elicits an immune response. A few trials have reported positive results, with one to date publishing full data. Phase 2 trials, which are designed to evaluate effectiveness and safety in a larger number of people, have started recruitment and enrollment for three of the vaccine candidates. These include those sponsored by the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca, CanSino Biological Inc./Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, and Moderna/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID).

While the news from research and advancement to Phase 2 clinical trials is encouraging, it is important to note that it is very early in the process and results have also shown some limitations. The antibody response in Moderna Phase 1 trials was reported to be similar to what has been seen in those naturally infected by the virus, indicating effectiveness. However, it is still unknown whether or not natural infection actually prevents re-infection, and if so, for what period of time. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine candidate reported the ability to prevent monkey test subjects from acquiring pneumonia when exposed to the virus. However, active viral particles were still found to be on certain body surfaces of the monkeys, including inside their noses. More research needs to be done to understand this response. Also, only results from the CanSino Phase 1 trial have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

There are a total of over 100 candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine, with less than 10 being actively studied in clinical trials. While typical vaccine development can take many years and tens of thousands of test subjects, companies and regulators are all committed to aggressively fast-tracking the COVID-19 vaccine timeline.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.