Editorial

SARS-CoV2 vaccines: Slow is fast

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Science Advances  22 May 2020:
eabc7428
DOI: 10.1126/Sciadv.abc7428

Catastrophic numbers of infections, morbidities, and mortalities during the COVID-19 pandemic, together with the disastrous impact on world economies have mandated a historically unparalleled effort to produce an effective vaccine. There are currently 95 vaccines in development against SARS-CoV2, the causative virus of COVID-19 (1), with several in, or entering clinical trials. Most of these are expected to clear Phase I and two experimental vaccines have moved into Phase II trials.

An effective vaccine is the best route to a return to “normalcy.” The only alternatives are widespread, systematic testing of the population with rigorous tracing of contacts, or readily available therapeutics to effectively treat infection and disease. Until the pandemic is resolved, social distancing, isolation, and personal protective equipment remain the best defense against infection.

The need to develop a vaccine is urgent, but most estimates conclude that even if trials are successful, an effective vaccine will not be widely available for 12 to 18 months. Much of the required time is related to the pace of proper clinical trials. Studies are usually first needed in experimental animals. However, non-human primates rarely display severe symptoms, and critical disease is also not observed in other species, including genetically engineered mice.

Clinical trials proceed in …

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