American pharmaceutical company Pfizer believes that a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready by the end of October 2020, reported The Times of Israel, citing Albert Bourla, the CEO of the firm.
“If things go well, and the stars are aligned, we will have enough evidence of safety and efficacy so that we can… have a vaccine around the end of October,” Bourla was quoted as saying in the report.
Pfizer is working with German firm BioNTech for several possible vaccines in Europe and the United States, said the report.
Besides, the report also quoted AstraZeneca boss who said that one or more vaccines could begin rolling out by the end of the year. AstraZeneca, in partnership with the University of Oxford, is working to come up with a vaccine and expects at least one could be ready by the end of 2020.
"The hope of many people is that we will have a vaccine, hopefully several, by the end of this year,” Pascal Soriot, head of AstraZeneca, was quoted in the report as saying. He, however, said “we are running against time".
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The report also highlighted the warnings from experts saying the challenges could be "daunting" as the estimates show that about 15 million doses would be required to stop the pandemic.
According to the report, Soriot said that one of the challenges in coming up with a vaccine was declining transmission rates as it will be difficult "to properly conduct clinical vaccine trials in a natural setting".According to the report, more than 100 labs across the world are working to develop a vaccine against the deadly virus. Of these, ten have made to the clinical trial stage.
The deadly virus has killed over 358,000 people and infected more than 5 million worldwide so far.