Nothing seems to pull the people of different nations together like a global health panic.
Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China, in late December 2019, the international community has banded together in swift fashion in order to develop a viable vaccine.
"Consider this a vaccine race," says Dr. Robin Shattock, lead researcher at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom.
"I think actually it's important that there are many different groups around the world at the start of this race," he adds.
Shattock is part of just one of many research teams around the world that are working around the clock to develop a vaccine within the year.
In early February, the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced a new collaboration with the multinational Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) in Oslo, Norway.
The partnership will bring together GSK’s strength in developing adjuvant — a substance to enhance the body’s immune response to antigens — with CEPI-funded entities interested in testing their vaccine.
By using an adjuvant, companies are able to reduce the amount of antigens required, thereby creating more vaccine doses — a critical opportunity in a pandemic.
A similar collaboration in the United States between the Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was made in early February.
Other partnerships CEPI and Moderna Inc. and the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) were also announced at the 2020 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.
“We’re always challenging ourselves to go faster. Each time something like this happens the global vaccine community is challenged to go faster and do better,” says Dr. Shattock.
“And it’s still not implausible that the virus may actually go away during the summer months.”