COVID vaccine in the works

Since the coronavirus pandemic has increasingly gotten worse over a short amount of time, many research institutions and clinics, like the Mayo Clinic, are currently at the front lines trying to find a vaccine.

“At Mayo, we’ve developed a comprehensive research portfolio, or what we call a COVID-19 research task force, in order to respond to every area that we need to learn more about this virus. We have scientists doing research in epidemiology. We have people doing research in immunology and vaccine development, in virology, in translational work, in clinical trials, in community engagement, in infection prevention and control, and how to clean surfaces and clean masks, as well as artificial intelligence and informatics,.” said Stacey Rizza an M.D., an infectious disease specialist.

The University of Nebraska has acquired volunteers to test an experimental drug and at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, they have begun recruiting people to test a possible vaccine. According to Dr. Andre Kalil, professor of medicine in the division of infectious disease at University of Nebraska Medical Center, the study will “test as many [COVID-19] therapies as possible, and remdesivir [the experimental drug] is just the first…If remdesivir turns out not to be effective, then we would remove it from the study and bring another drug to test against placebo. It’s a dynamic, fast way to run a randomized trial.”

Meanwhile, other labs are racing for a vaccine. The vaccine study that is furthest along is Moderna Therapeutics located in Norwood, Massachusetts. On May 12, Moderna announced that the U.S. FDA granted a Fast Track designation for the company’s vaccine candidate. Fast tracking a vaccine means it will be reviewed to see if it will treat serious or life-threatening conditions and fill an unmet medical need.

“I have seen predictions that are as distant as 18 months. I am hopeful with the amount of focus, concern, and funding from governments around the world the development for a vaccine will be sooner rather than later,” said Joshua Hernandez, a nurse working with COVID patients in the ICU.

Moderna will be finalizing protocol for a Phase 3 study, as early as the beginning of summer 2020.