- Army scientists are working on a coronavirus vaccine capable of combating all COVID-19 strains.
- If testing goes well, a coronavirus vaccine could be ready in late 2020.
- The Army has a long history of working with biotech firms to develop effective vaccines for dangerous diseases.
When you think about scientists working on a vaccine for the coronavirus, you likely picture scores of scientists at a pharmaceutical company toiling away inside of a state-of-the-art research facility. Or, perhaps, you envision a team of hospital researchers carefully looking over lab results. What doesn’t come to mind for most people, however, is a team of Army scientists working around the clock for an effective vaccine.
In something that may come as a surprise, Army scientists actually have a long history of researching and combating infectious diseases. In fact, the Army has been behind a number of effective treatments for diseases like the plague, ebola, and anthrax. Further, the Army routinely works with some of the biggest biotech firms in the world to help combat some of the nastiest diseases on the planet. That said, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Army scientists have been working diligently on developing a coronavirus vaccine for nearly three months now.
“We have more capacity to run more studies at the same time,” Col. E. Darrin Cox of the U.S. Army’s Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) explained in late March. “We can be running things in parallel rather than having to do things sequentially, and that’s helped speed up the process of the science.”
And of course, the resources at the Army’s disposal only helps boost their research efforts.
“We have a large capacity to be able to test a very large number of products,’ USAMRIID viral immunology chief Dr. John Dye added. “Most other places don’t have that infrastructure to be able to develop or test as many products at a time.”
With that backdrop, Army scientists believe they will have a coronavirus vaccine capable of combating all strains of the coronavirus before 2021. Defense One reports:
The vaccine candidate, currently being tested in hundreds of mice, was developed by Army scientists. The Army is also working to accelerate and evaluate candidates being produced by AstraZeneca and other pharmaceutical companies under the White House’s “Operation Warp Speed” program, which aims to have a vaccine ready by year’s end.
NBCNews adds that the most promising vaccine candidate in question was chosen from a field of more than 24 prototypes.
“We have leveraged the Institute’s expertise and infrastructure to be able to compress what would, under normal circumstances, be two years of discovery and design work into several months,” Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research said this week.
In a call with reporters, Modjarrad added that we’ll hear in the near future about the work Army researchers have done which shows that all coronavirus strains “can be covered by a single vaccine.”
Barring any unforeseen changes, the Army is anticipating that human testing on a vaccine will begin sometime this summer.
On a related note, Dr. Anthony Fauci this week said that three separate Phase 3 trials for potential coronavirus vaccines will get underway this summer. Fauci previously said that a vaccine may not arrive until early 2021, but with so many organizations working on a vaccine around the clock, there may be a slight chance we see a breakthrough later in the year.