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Coronavirus vaccine might be ready for healthcare workers this fall

Published Mar 24th, 2020 2:51PM EDT
Coronavirus Vaccine USA
Image: Alba Vigaray/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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  • Coronavirus vaccine developer Moderna said the mRNA-1273 drug that’s currently in the clinical trials phase might be ready to be deployed as soon as this fall.
  • The first beneficiaries could be healthcare workers and other professionals in the medical field.
  • A vaccine that could prevent the general public from contracting COVID-19 disease will not be available for up to 18 months.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

COVID-19 has no cure right now, and that’s why the strict social distancing measures are so critical. Combined with proper hand-washing and improved hygiene, the quarantine will buy scientists precious time to come up with therapies that can kill the novel coronavirus and increase the speed of recovery for infected patients. Others will continue to advance the various vaccine programs that are underway, which is the only type of cure that can prevent future coronavirus reinfections and outbreaks. Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) is conducting a massive trial, testing four separate drugs that have shown promising results against the virus in more limited tests. The WHO is also collaborating with scientists on at least 20 vaccines, of which one is already in testing in the US. That very same vaccine might be deployed as soon as this fall, although only healthcare workers and certain other professionals might get it.

Produced by Moderna, the proposed vaccine (mRNA-1273) has been in trial for more than a week in Seattle, where 45 volunteers have been inoculated. That’s impressive progress for a vaccine, but it doesn’t mean the actual release of the COVID-19 cure can happen sooner than next year. Vaccine trials are intended to ensure that the vaccine doesn’t have any unwanted side-effects. Even if the vaccine has been fast-tracked so far, it can take anywhere between 12 to 18 months to be approved for the general public.

However, Moderna’s CEO Stephan Bancel told Goldman Sachs on Friday that the mRNA-1273 drug could be available to emergency workers by fall, according to a regulatory filing from the company. Per The Street, Bacel said that “while a commercially available vaccine is not likely to be available for at least 12 to 18 months, it is possible that under emergency use, a vaccine could be available to some people, possibly including healthcare professionals, in the fall of 2020.”

Bacel also said the company is “scaling up manufacturing capacity toward the production of millions of doses per month, in the potential form of individual or multidose vials.” The company added in the filing that “the ability of the company to make millions of doses per month is contingent on investments in the scale-up and further buildout of the company’s existing manufacturing infrastructure.”

Inoculating medical professionals and other job categories at risk of being infected first makes plenty of sense, and it should happen as soon as possible. The people fighting on the front lines against the disease should get the proper protection first, whether it’s protective gear, treatment, or a vaccine. But, in addition to performing their roles, vaccines should not have any harmful side-effects and the same goes for Moderna’s mRNA-1273 drug. The clinical trials will hopefully deliver good news, but we’re in for a long wait.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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