One of the biggest questions circling around the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus is when will a vaccine be ready? Estimations of the timeline for a vaccine have ranged, but leading scientists say that it won’t be anytime soon.
Anthony Fauci, a American immunologist who is the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) was recently interviewed on NBC’s Meet the Press.
During the interview, Fauci said, “We’re not going to have a vaccine that’s deployable for at least a year to a year and a half.” He said the vaccine would be similar to a flu shot; people would go to a doctor and get an injection.
Dr. Fauci is a renowned scientist who has worked as the director for NIAID since 1984. During his career, he has conducted research for diseases like Ebola, HIV/AIDS and malaria. He helped draft the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief during the HIV/AIDS crisis, which saved millions of lives in developing countries.
Michael Osterholm, Regents Professor and the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), was recently on an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience.
He said, “I think that between getting the effectiveness and the safety data together, we’re years out. This is not going to happen soon, it’s wishful thinking.”
Osterholm continued, “Look at every event, Zika in 2015, we said we’ll have a vaccine for it no time. Here we are five years later and we have no vaccine.” He said that we have to make sure to complete the job when it comes to developing a vaccination. Osterholm said, “We start on something, and then we forget.”
Why Is the Vaccine Going to Take So Long?
During the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Osterholm said, “I could make a vaccine for [COVID-19] overnight. The question is if it’s safe and effective. That’s the challenge we have right now, questions like how do you make immunity to a coronavirus? And what kind of vaccine do you have to have that brings in all the different parts of the immune system. So we don’t know that yet.”
He continued, “The second thing we have to worry about is safety. There’s a condition in humans called antibody dependent enhancement (ADE). It turns out that if you have no antibody or immune response, you’ll get the disease. If you have a lot you’re protected. But if you have this in-between level, and then you get the disease, it actually enhances the disease [and the] immune response is really destructive.”
He then talks about a recall of a Dengue vaccination that happened in the Philippines. It turned out that if kids got the vaccine and then contracted Dengue, they became a lot sicker than if they didn’t get the vaccination.
Osterholm continued, “We found with the 2003 SARS vaccine that there was an ADE component to it when we made it in animals. We’re going to have to really study [the COVID-19 vaccine] to make sure it’s safe.”