First COVID-19 Vaccine could Come as Soon as March 2021

20 May 2020

GMP News

The world may see its first novel coronavirus vaccine deployed between March and June next year based on the most optimistic estimate, a leading COVID-19 expert in Shanghai said on May 15.

If not, chances are that a vaccine will become available at the end of next year or the beginning of 2022, said Zhang Wenhong, leader of the Shanghai team of experts in the clinical treatment of novel coronavirus pneumonia cases.

There are 108 novel coronavirus vaccines undergoing research and development around the world, according to a World Health Organization list, with some having entered clinical trials.

A senior Chinese scientist said on Friday that the country had five vaccines-one vector and four inactivated-that had entered the first two phases of clinical trials in China. They are set to complete their phase two trials in July.

In the United States, some vaccines have proceeded to phase three clinical trials.

But the progress of work on vaccines would generally depend on whether the novel coronavirus stayed around for the long term or basically disappeared, just like the viruses responsible for severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome, said Zhang, who is also director of the department of infectious diseases at Shanghai Huashan Hospital Affiliated with Fudan University.

If the virus disappears, almost all the R& D programs on vaccines will probably be suspended, he said during a discussion hosted by Shanghai-based conglomerate Fosun International.

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