As the cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) surge in the U.S., the race is on to develop vaccines and treatments to combat the virus.
As of March 10, there are 730 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and 26 deaths, according to the CDC. The number of cases are expected to increase as testing kits become more available: 4 million additional test kits should be available by the end of the week, according to Anthony S Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.
Here are the top 3 things to know about coronavirus drug and vaccine development:
1. Researchers around the globe are rushing to develop a vaccine to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but the development and approval process could take 18 months, Fauci says.
The good news is that vaccine researchers are pursuing different types of vaccines—shots developed from new technologies that not only are faster to make than traditional inoculations but might prove more potent, Associated Press reported.
“Until we test them in humans we have absolutely no idea what the immune response will be,” Judith O’Donnell, infectious disease chief at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, tells AP. “Having a lot of different vaccines—with a lot of different theories behind the science of generating immunity—all on a parallel track really ultimately gives us the best chance of getting something successful.”
The Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle is getting ready to test 45 volunteers with different doses of shots co-developed by NIH and Moderna Inc. And Inovio Pharmaceuticals will start safety tests of its vaccine candidate in April in the US, followed by a similar study in China and South Korea.
2. Gilead Sciences initiated 2 Phase 3 clinical studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of its antiviral drug remdesivir in adults diagnosed with COVID-19.