When will there be a COVID-19 vaccine?
8/6/2020 by Robert M. Jacobson, MD
As eager as we all are to return to school, work and social gatherings without masks and social distancing, the truth is we're unlikely to see a return to normalcy until a vaccine is developed to prevent COVID-19 infections.
The Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society, the largest global organization involved with the regulation of healthcare, reports 39 different COVID-19 vaccines are under development at this time, and fifteen of them are now being studied in trials with tens of thousands of volunteers.
Manufacturing a vaccine requires incredible skill and care; it involves growing the germ in a lab to make large quantities of the antigen and then purifying and processing the antigen to make it a safe form to give to people. For the vaccine to get licensure it must be manufactured consistently, be both safe and effective, and undergo testing at the lab bench and in human volunteers. Manufacturers conduct a series of trials to figure out if a vaccine is safe and effective. It's not a process that is likely to be effective or safe if rushed.
Not every licensed vaccine is routinely recommended. The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) makes the official recommendations for what licensed vaccines are needed based on how common a disease is and whether alternatives exist. Though we need COVID-19 vaccines immediately, manufacturers must first prove their vaccine works and that it is safe. The fact that vaccines are in their trial stages is good news; their developers are making sure their vaccines work and are safe.
Once we have licensed vaccines against COVID-19 that are safe and effective and recommended for you, your Care Team at Mayo Clinic will work to make sure you can get the vaccine as soon as possible. Until then, each of us has a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19 by:
- Masking in public places
- Avoiding crowds
- Social distancing
- Frequent handwashing
- Avoidance of touching one’s face
- Staying home if you're sick
Dr. Robert M. Jacobson is a pediatrician in Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson's Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (CPAM) and medical director of the Primary Care in Southeast Minnesota Immunization Program.