Coronavirus Drugs and Vaccines: How close are we to treat COVID-19?

Coronavirus Vaccine Development

The first thing that must be stated when reporting on this type of topic is that the story changes often. Scientists around the world, government and those in private industry, are in the process of developing a vaccine for the coronavirus – specifically COVID-19.

Developing a vaccine, if normal procedures and testing were to be used, can take years – upwards of 16 to 18 or more. According to many, that includes research, animal testing, human trails and final approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before it’s offered to the public.

According to NBC News, in a story by Emily R. Siegel, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, indicated that the earliest a coronavirus vaccine would be deployable would be a year to a year and a half from now.

1940’s Malaria Option

President Trump said during a live briefing on the subject Thursday that an old vaccine called chloroquine been shown to work against COVID-19 and that it would be available immediately. The chloroquine drug was developed in the 1940s.

However, as has happened with many of the remarks from President Trump, people in his administration had to correct the record.

Moments after Trump spoke, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn seemed to indicate that what the President said was untrue and that chloroquine had not yet been approved for treating COVID-19.

Three Coronavirus Drugs Under Development

Currently, according to media reports citing experts in the field, there are three “main” drugs under development by US companies to fight COVID-19.

Moderna’s mRNA-1273 – Human testing has already been started by Moderna Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Phase one includes 45 healthy adults ages 18 to 55. This phase comes after earlier testing on animals. The vaccine uses the body’s cells to produce an antibody to initiate a “robust” immune response. This drug has already shown promise in tests on animals.

Regeneron’s REGN3048-3051 – Regeneron Pharmaceuticals of Tarrytown, New York, is working on an antibody treatment with the help of “genetically modified” mice. Testing with humans is hoped to start in the Summer.

Inovio’s INO-4800 – Inovio Pharmaceuticals of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, is using a DNA Medicine technique for their vaccine which is “modeling off” the virus’ DNA sequence utilizing “optimized DNA plasmids.” Human trials may start as early as the next week.

Sources: NBC News/Emily R. Siegel; Yahoo News/David Knowles; Reuters