During a Facebook Live interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci – a top infectious disease expert at the National Institutes of Health – explained that 65 days after the U.S. was able to access the gene sequence of the virus, the first injection was given to a volunteer for a phase-one trial.
“That’s the fastest it’s ever been done,” Fauci said.
Traditionally, from the time a company starts making a vaccine to the time it’s approved can take as many as five to seven years, Fauci said.
The downside, however, is that even at the seriously accelerated pace, a vaccine is unlikely to be available to Americans who come down with the coronavirus during the current outbreak.
“Even at that rocket speed, it’s going to take a few months to show that the initial safety is OK – then you go into a phase-two trial … that will take another six to eight months to even know if it works,” Fauci explained.
Overall, it’s not likely that testing would be completed for at least a year, potentially longer.
“If we cycle to another season, that’s when the vaccine is going to be very relevant,” Fauci said.
Fauci noted there were a number of already-developed drugs that were undergoing clinical trials to see if they would help combat the coronavirus – including Gilead Sciences’ Remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine, the latter of which has been approved for decades to treat malaria.
Longer term, the goal is to develop a universal coronavirus vaccine that could fight against future iterations of the virus.