by Kavita Jaikissoon and Zanna Shapiro
The outbreak of COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus, has many people on edge.
According to the World Health Organization, the virus has already spread to at least 56 countries so far. This includes the United States.
As of February 29, 2020, one coronavirus death was confirmed in the U.S.
Currently, over 80,000 people have been infected worldwide, and more than 2,800 have died from complications. This raises the question of when a vaccine will be developed, and what the efficacy will be.
After China released COVID-19’s genetic code in January, various countries have been trying to create the first vaccine.
China, Australia, and Hong Kong have all recently produced a potential vaccine candidate.
Israel has also conducted its own research, and according to news site SF GATE,
“Israel got a jump on the coronavirus crisis because researchers had already created a vaccine against avian coronavirus Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV), which affects poultry [and] by “pure luck,” the [research] team selected a poultry coronavirus to test their new vaccine technology…
“After the current COVID-19 virus broke out in China, the researchers studied the new virus and realized it was genetically similar to IBV and that the infection mechanism was the same. They now are confident they can adjust the system to combat COVID-19.”
Israel claims that it is weeks away from developing a vaccine against COVID-19.
According to the World Health Organization’s director-general, as of February 28, 2020 more than 20 potential vaccines aimed at preventing coronavirus disease are in development around the world.
That being said, the United States is currently the only country that has a viable vaccine candidate that can be tested on humans.
Moderna, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, has sent a potential vaccine to US government researchers. The vaccine candidate, called mRNA-1273, has been sent to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for further study.
Clinical trials will begin taking place as soon as April. According to the Wall Street Journal, two doses of the vaccine candidate will be tested on 45 healthy human volunteers. The purpose of the trial is to see if volunteers can produce an immune response against COVID-19.
If the clinical trial is successful, we will be one step closer to distributing a vaccine worldwide.
However, approval for the vaccine is expected to take at least a year because of further testing and regulatory approvals.
While it is unknown whether or not Moderna’s vaccine candidate will work, it is remarkable, nonetheless.
This potential vaccine candidate was created within 42 days of receiving COVID-19’s genetic code in January.
At the same time, a Long Island biotech startup company also entered the race to combat the spread of the virus. According to an executive for Farmingdale based company Codagenix, Inc., their potential coronavirus vaccine could be ready for safety testing on human volunteers as early as May 2020.
Scientists and pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to develop effective vaccines as well as treatments for COVID-19.
Although CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield stated that Americans across the country are at low risk for contracting the virus, standard flu precautions should be taken.
People should avoid crowded places and avoid interaction with those who exhibit cold or flu symptoms.
Likewise, if an individual feels unwell, he or she should stay home and recuperate.
People should wash their hands with soap and water regularly, and avoid touching their face. An alternative is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Some people may even choose to wear a filter mask or N95 mask, but these are sold out in many NYC pharmacies as well as on Amazon.
If you do end up with flu-like systems, see a healthcare provider immediately.