Where does COVID-19 Vaccine Research Stand?

More than 100 COVID-19 vaccines are in development. Daniel Culver, DO, weighs in on early research findings.

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CLEVELAND – Many people are wondering how long it’ll be before we have a vaccine to protect against COVID-19.

According to Cleveland Clinic’s Daniel Culver, DO, there are more than 100 vaccines in various stages of development.

“Vaccine development is going very quickly right now and it is going about as well as we could hope.” He said. “Investigators around the world are leveraging a number of new platforms for delivering vaccines to patients including viral-based vectors, proteins delivered in novel ways, RNA-based vaccines, DNA-based vaccines and conventional inactivated viral vaccines.”

Preliminary phase one trial data is emerging.

One study out of China looks at harnessing a type of cold virus as a “Trojan Horse.”

The inactivated virus is engineered to trigger the immune system to produce antibodies to fight novel coronavirus.

Early results show the vaccine is safe and increases antibody and cell responses. The next step is to prove that the vaccine actually provides immunity to COVID-19.

Another group is researching a novel RNA-based vaccine.

A small phase one study shows the immune system responds to the vaccine, but now investigators need to prove it’s effective in preventing infection.

Dr. Culver said early study results are encouraging but he reminds us there’s a long way to go.

“While we’re all very excited about promising news that are coming out with a couple of these vaccines, so far, we’re really just at the opening stages of this,” said Dr. Culver. “We have to see that these vaccines are effective in large-scale clinical trials before we will know that we have a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2.”

Dr. Culver said these vaccines will need to pass two more stages of research before they’re considered viable.

He adds that despite promising findings in early phase one trials, most vaccines don’t make it through the next two rounds of testing.

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