An American pharmaceutical manufacturer has emerged as a leader in the development of a vaccine for coronavirus, Vísir reports. Test subjects have demonstrated a strong antibody response. Infectious disease experts say this is a cause for celebration, though there is still a long way to go.
“I’m quite optimistic about this. But of course these are only the first few bits of news, and naturally we’re waiting for further results,” says Bryndís Sigurðardóttir, head physician of the infectious disease unit at Landspítali when asked about the American pharmaceutical manufacturer Moderna’s vaccine.
The vaccine was tested on 45 young, healthy individuals who had not contracted coronavirus.
“They received two injections, one at first, and a second a month later. The good news is that all of the test subjects showed a very strong antibody response when their blood was analysed after two weeks, which is exactly what we want,” says Bryndís, adding administering the vaccine second time led to an even stronger antibody response.
“The result is that the vaccine is safe, and those who receive it in two doses like this produce antibodies,” she says.
Now, however, the waiting begins. It will be necessary to evaluate and see how long these antibodies last in blood, and whether they successfully protect against infection.
“Comparisons between the test subjects’ results and those of people who were actually infected with coronavirus has shown that the antibody development is quite comparable,” says Bryndís.
194 vaccines are in development, only 17 of which have been tested on people thus far. It could take up to ten years to develop a vaccine, but scientists are hopeful that one can be produced in 12 to 18 months. Scientists were able to map out the virus’ genome last January. If the aforementioned time frame holds true, the vaccine could see the light of day by January next year.
“Possibly next spring if everything goes well,” Bryndís says when asked whether she thinks the vaccine can be put into general use based on Moderna’s data.
“We need to keep in mind that we will need around 500 million to a billion doses of this COVID-19 vaccine if it is to be enough for the whole world. That will take longer.”
It will also be interesting to see how the test subjects from this study fare in the long run.
“We don’t currently know how long-lasting these antibodies are, whether they’re permanent or last just six or twelve months. There are so many unanswered questions. Overall however this is very positive news, and I think there will be more news over the summer from companies working on vaccine research,” concludes Bryndís.
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