Story at a glance

  • Collins said at least four to five COVID-19 vaccines “look pretty promising.”
  • About a dozen potential vaccines are in the first stages of testing or are set to begin small safety studies in humans to evaluate possible problems and immunity.
  • President Trump Friday formally announced a public-private partnership to develop a vaccine as part of “Operation Warp Speed.”

National Institute of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins said at least four to five COVID-19 vaccines “look pretty promising” and wide-scale testing could begin with one or two by July, according to the Associated Press (AP)

“The big challenge now is to go big and everybody is about ready for that. And we want to be sure that happens in a coordinated way,” Collins told the AP in an interview Thursday. 


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About a dozen potential vaccines are in the first stages of testing or are set to begin small safety studies in humans to evaluate possible problems and immunity. Among those include a vaccine candidate created by NIH and Moderna Inc., and another created by Oxford University, according to the AP.

Scientists at the University of Oxford posted results of a small study conducted in rhesus macaques monkeys to bioRxiv. The study found the experimental vaccine appeared to block the coronavirus in the animals. Clinical human trials of the vaccine are ongoing. 

Collins told the AP that as tests are showing some promise, “until you put it into the real world and check it out you don’t really know. You can’t skip over that really, really hard part of testing this in thousands and thousands of people.”

Questions about an adequate vaccine include how older adults and those with chronic health issues will respond to it. 

“If you had a vaccine that only worked for 20-year-olds and didn’t work for 70-year-olds, that would not be a success,” Collins said. 

While Collins says it's possible a vaccine could be developed by the end of the year, he said manufacturing hundreds of millions of doses by January will be a “heck of a stretch,” according to Business Insider.


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President Trump Friday formally announced a public-private partnership to develop a vaccine as part of “Operation Warp Speed,” the government’s effort to speed up the development of potential coronavirus vaccines. 

“This is an endeavor unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project,” Trump said Friday during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden. 

The effort will be led by Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines division, and Army Gen. Gustave Perna. 

Slaoui said during the news conference that early data from clinical trials has made him confident “we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020.” 

Trump said Operation Warp Speed not only entails the development of a vaccine, but also production and distribution. 

Health experts have said that a vaccine can take 12 to 18 months to develop, with some cautioning that that timeline is optimistic.


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Published on May 15, 2020