COVID-19: What’s the Vaccine Timeline?

Image credit: qimino / pixabay

When will a vaccine for COVID-19 be ready? The short answer is not for a while. 

There’s still a lot left unknown about the virus, like the level of immunity people keep after they recover from the virus, how long that immunity lasts, and whether someone can get reinfected. 

Last week, Dr.Redfield, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Infection (CDC), said the U.S. population could probably expect a vaccine by late 2021. But he warned that a potential vaccine might only be 70% effective at generating an immune response for the population. So even after a vaccine is available, widespread mask use is still going to be necessary to protect people.

But one aspect often overlooked is that many of the vaccines we get require multiple doses, like for HPV or MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella). The biggest vaccine producer in the world, Serum Institute of India, recently said it could take up to 5 years to fully vaccinate the global population if an approved COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses.

We don’t know how long it will take to produce a vaccine for COVID-19, or whether it’s going to require multiple doses or not. And with all of the biotech and pharmaceutical companies working independently of each other, each trying to squeeze the most profit out of the vaccine-producing process by rushing clinical trials, it’s not guaranteed that the vaccine itself will be safe and perform as it should. Competing for profits is not a good reason for vaccine producers to gamble with something so important, especially when so many lives are at risk.