Is the Race for a COVID-19 Vaccine in the Home Stretch?

Daniel Culver, DO, tells us where COVID-19 vaccine research currently stands and whether we’re nearing the finish line.

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CLEVELAND – The race continues to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

Several vaccines are in various stages of research and some are starting to break away from the pack, according to Daniel Culver, DO, of Cleveland Clinic.

“There are a number of vaccines currently in advanced stage clinical trials, what we call stage 3 clinical trials, which are really the last stage before application for approval to the FDA, “ he said.

There are four vaccines, in particular, inching their way toward the finish line for approval, hopefully, in the weeks ahead.

Two of those are RNA based vaccines, using a novel strategy that’s new to vaccine development.

Two others are using a ‘viral vector’, where a cold virus acts as a type of ‘Trojan Horse’ to attack infection.

Dr. Culver says if one of the vaccines receives emergency use authorization from the FDA, we may hear about an approval in December.

High risk populations, like first responders and healthcare workers, are likely to receive the vaccine first.

If all goes well, the general population may have access in the second or third quarter of 2021.

“We probably will want to proceed with multiple vaccines. We still don’t know the durability of the vaccines,” said Dr. Culver. “We still don’t know how these will work in relatively uncommon populations, immunocompromised populations, the elderly, and so I don’t think we can bank on any one of these, even if it’s the first one and most effective, to be the one that will ultimately be the best for people.”

Dr. Culver reminds us the vaccine information we’ve heard in the news is still preliminary and should be taken with a grain of salt.

He said it’s still too early to know whether any of the vaccines being studied will be effective and durable against coronavirus.

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