Eight prospective coronavirus vaccines have already started human trials, as the White House continues “Operation Warp Speed” with the goal of making 300 million vaccine doses available to Americans by the start of 2021.
Researchers at Oxford University and drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna are among those already conducting human trials of potential vaccines, as part of an expedited timeline to deliver an emergency-use vaccine by the fall. Other pharmaceutical giants, including Johnson & Johnson, have begun building up vaccine production capacity to fast-track millions of doses to the public.
President Trump said earlier this month that he was “very confident” the U.S. will discover a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, with his administration combining public- and private-sector efforts to enhance research.
“I think we’re going to have a vaccine much sooner rather than later,” the president said. “. . . This country needs a vaccine, and you’re going to have it by the end of the year.”
Experts remain bearish on the prospects of making a successful vaccine available for public consumption by the end of the year, but have admitted the efforts are extraordinary.
“I’m not aware of any vaccine that’s been developed after only a year to a year-and-a-half after identifying a pathogen. It usually takes years,” Walter Orenstein, associate director of the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta, told the Wall Street Journal. “People are moving very, very quickly with this.”
Chinese and Iranian hackers have already attempted to slow vaccine development by targeting American health-care firms and universities.
Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell admitted in an interview Sunday that the shuttered U.S. economy could require a vaccine to return to normalcy.
“For the economy to fully recover, people will have to be fully confident, and that may have to await the arrival of a vaccine,” Powell said on 60 Minutes.