University team says it’s close to having a COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Apr. 20, 2020 at 11:41 AM CDT
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A team from Oxford University announced Sunday that it’s close to having a COVID-19 vaccine ready for mass production.

That process typically takes several years, but the group said its vaccine will be ready for human testing by the fall.

Dr. Peter Marks, who serves as the Director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a teleconference last week that whichever candidate makes it to production has to be available in mass quantities.

“Ultimately, we’re not talking about vaccinating, you know, a few hundred thousand individuals,” Marks said.

“We’re talking about vaccinating a few hundred million people in this country alone, and a few billion people globally.”

Development of a vaccine typically takes so long because of the steps involved in getting it ready for public use, and the clinical trial phase.

Researchers say the more reliable the data on a vaccine’s effectiveness, the better.

But Dr. L.J. Tan, who serves as the chief strategy officer with the Immunization Action Coalition said there will variances in the effectiveness simply because there are vast differences among the adult populations in the world.

He said they’re taking that into account when it comes to choosing a vaccine for mass production.

“Speed to a vaccine here is important,” Tan said.

“And I think, you know, we don’t want to have perfection be the enemy of the good in this case.”

Tan went on to explain that normally, it may take years of trials before a vaccine reaches the population, but during the pandemic, scientists can fast-track this process by doing as many of the necessary steps as possible in parallel.

The vaccine would still need approval from the federal government to be administered.

Both Marks and Tan say that can also be fast tracked in an emergency situation.