The United States of America expects to have four different coronavirus vaccines tested in large-scale clinical trials by mid of September. It is a remarkable timeline as the SARS-CoV-2 virus was discovered just 10 months back in December.
The US government is pleased with the speedy progress, said Paul Mango, the Health and Human Services deputy chief. The man is with agency’s liaison with the Operation Warp Speed. The White House leads the mission for speedy development of coronavirus vaccines, treatment, and development.
Operation Warp Speed official updates on coronavirus vaccines
Paul said that they are on track, if not ahead, in terms of the overall objective. They should have tens of millions of effective and safe coronavirus vaccines by the end of 2020.
Every clinical trial involves 30,000 volunteers. Two sets of tests and underway, and they are about halfway there.
According to the early results of COVID-19 vaccines, they have significant amounts for neutralizing antibodies. However, it doesn’t guarantee that the vaccine will protect one person for coronavirus.
Robert Redfield, the CDC director, said that there would be limited vaccine doses to distribute at first. Certain groups of people will receive the vaccine first; for example, healthcare workers and older people.
Redfield said that they want to be prepared for whichever vaccines pass all criteria of safety and effectiveness. Further, they will start vaccinating the groups that are on priority.
There is currently ongoing manufacturing of three vaccines out of six funded by the Operation Warp Speed. Redfield said that the remaining three needs retrofitting of facilities. They need equipment acquired from different parts of the world to validate those vaccines. Once done, their manufacturing process will also start.
The government is currently planning on how to distribute whichever vaccine is approved first. Paul Mango said that it is a logistical task.
Five out of six vaccines need two doses, and some space 21 days after the first while some 28 days. Moreover, all vaccines need to storage under -94 degrees Fahrenheit.
The USA has a stock of more than 100 million needles, stoppers, syringes, and has ordered 100 million more.
Decisions might be taken before studies are complete
None of the potential coronavirus vaccines’ doses can be distributed before the FDA declares them safe and useful. The first approval can come within October. However, December is more likely, and it all depends on how quickly they perform clinical trials.
Only around 150 to 175 volunteers out of 30,000 in every test will be infected with coronavirus for accurate results. This will verify that the vaccine is effective.
After such tests, scientists can determine the significance of a vaccine. They will also analyze how many volunteers received a placebo instead of a vaccine to check if it boosted immunity or not.
There is a Data Safety Monitoring Board, not dependent on the government or the vaccine candidates. It determines what point of data is enough or what more needs to be collected to judge if a vaccine is effective or not.
They might come back before there are 30,000 volunteers enrolled, said Mango. He said that there is enough improvement, and vaccines are ready for FDA to takeover.
Some health experts are worried that the government might stop the trials early as vaccines show effectiveness. However, the board might extend the trial if there is not enough information about 30,000 patients receiving either placebo or vaccine. This can happen if there are not enough participants who get infected with coronavirus to detect effectiveness.
A trial can be paused if earlier data shows that it was ineffective or unsafe for a candidate.
Operation Warp Speed might fund for more vaccines
As of now, the US supports eight potential vaccine candidates, but they can invest more. The new ones have to be different from the earlier ones to get funds.
Mango said that at this point, they have become a little more discerning. Additionally, large-scale funding will go towards vaccines that can be delivered in one dose or consumed orally. However, Mango said that such an outcome is not inevitable.
The man went onto express that there is no guarantee in science. But, Operation Warp Speed is increasing the potentiality of having one vaccine acceptable for large quantities before the end of 2020.