Human trials have begun – but even if they go well and a cure is found, there are many barriers before global immunisation is feasible. When will coronavirus vaccine be ready?
Though we can slow the spread of COVID-19, through confinement and other social distancing measures, and scientists are developing drugs to treat its symptoms, the only way to actually prevent people from catching COVID-19 is with a vaccine – and we don’t yet have one of those.
Nearly 80 companies and academic institutions are racing to produce one, and of those, five are already testing their vaccine candidates in people. The first of these to enter human trials – one produced by Boston-based biotech company Moderna – did so on 16 March.
This unprecedented speed is thanks in large part to early Chinese efforts to sequence the genetic material of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. China shared that sequence in early January, allowing research groups around the world to grow the live virus and study how it invades human cells and makes people sick.