There are at least eight candidates for a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine in the clinical development stage, and some of them could be available by “late fall” or “early winter,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, testified on Tuesday.
Dr. Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Taskforce, told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP):
There are at least eight candidate COVID-19 vaccines in clinical development. The NIH [National Institutes of Health] has been collaborating with a number of pharmaceutical companies at various stages of development. I will describe one very briefly, which is not the only one, but one that we have been involved in heavily developing with Moderna.
On January 10th, the sequence was known. On January the 11th, the Vaccine Research Center met to develop a plan, and on the 14th of January, we officially started the vaccine development. Sixty-two days later, we are now in phase 1 clinical trial with the two doses already fully enrolled. There will be animals safety. Phase 1 will directly go into phase 2/3 in late spring and early summer. And if we are successful, we hope to know that in the late fall and early winter.
Trials will be very representative in trying to get vulnerable segments of the population, namely minorities, to participate, Dr. Fauci, who also serves as the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at NIH, added later.
Dr. Fauci acknowledged that in January, he told the Senate panel it would take 12 months to a year and a half to develop a vaccine successfully.
He added, however, that the NIH trial for a coronavirus vaccine “moved very quickly.”
“It’s definitely not a long shot. I think it’s more likely than not that we will,” Dr. Fauci declared, referring to the likelihood that the U.S. will develop a vaccine within the time frame he described in January.
Alluding to the development of a vaccine, Fauci noted that the United States hopes to potentially “have multiple winners,” adding:
This will be important because this will be good for global availability if we have more than one successful candidate. We also … will be producing vaccines at risk, which means we’ll be investigating considerable resources in developing doses even before we know how any given candidate or candidates work.
I must warn that there’s also the possibility of negative consequences where certain vaccines can actually enhance the negative effect of the infection. The big unknown is efficacy. Will it be present or absent, and how durable will it be?
Dr. Fauci noted that the NIH had launched a public-private partnership to accelerate the development of both vaccines and therapeutic interventions to combat COVID019.
“The purpose of that is to prioritize and accelerate [the] clinical evaluation of therapeutic candidates with near-term potential,” he explained. “Hopefully, our research efforts, together with the other public health efforts, will get us quickly to an end to this terrible ordeal that we are all going through.”
Fauci testified alongside other members of the Trump administration’s team working on combating the coronavirus pandemic plaguing the world.
The focus of the Senate HELP panel’s hearing is to discuss how to get back to work and school safely.
In early April, the research group Pharma reported that “there were 284 clinical trials for potential [coronavirus] treatments and vaccines underway around the United States and the world.”