by Stephen Cooley
In light of the recent outbreak, many medical institutions are looking at creating a coronavirus vaccine, but many worry that if the virus were to become a much greater epidemic, would a vaccine be too little, too late?
According to NPR, making a new vaccine can take a decade or more, but “technologies and new strategies… [might] shorten that timetable to months, and possibly weeks.” This new method of producing vaccines relies on sequencing the virus’ genome as opposed to growing it in the lab under controlled conditions.
The team heading this research into a vaccine for the Coronavirus also worked on creating vaccines for Ebola and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, and they were able to go from nothing to working vaccine in 12-18 months.
According to CBS, a laboratory in San Diego, CA has said that it already has an experimental vaccine for the Coronavirus and it took them just three hours to find it. While these claims do not seem to be independently verified by people outside that lab, the company has helped develop many vaccines in the past. However, the lab did say that it will take many months to test the vaccine, both for safety and effectiveness, and scientists there said that it could take “about a year” for the vaccine to be publicly available and in production.
In the meantime, doctors across the world are scrambling to treat patients with the Coronavirus, mainly using “supportive care,” according to NPR, as there are no drugs currently available which kill off the infection. By keeping the body as strong as possible for as long as possible, doctors are able to bolster our immune system to fight off the infection- working with biology to conquer illnesses, rather than without it.
O’Kaine, Caitlin. “San Diego lab claims to have discovered a coronavirus vaccine in 3 hours — but testing it will take months.” CBS Interactive, Inc, 13 February 2020, cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-vaccine-san-diego-lab-inovio-pharmaceuticals-discovered-drug-testing/. Accessed 14 February 2020.
Palca, Joe. “Timetable For A Vaccine Against The New Coronavirus? Maybe This Fall.” NPR, 12 February 2020, npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/02/12/804628081/timetable-for-a-vaccine-against-the-new-coronavirus-maybe-this-fall?/. Accessed 14 February 2020.
Harris, Richard. “There’s No Specific Drug That Kills Coronavirus. But Doctors Have Ways To Treat It.” NPR, 11 February 2020, npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/11/804862868/theres-no-specific-drug-that-kill-coronavirus-but-doctors-have-ways-to-treat-it/. Accessed 15 February 2020.