Coronavirus vaccine moving at 'rocket speed' but challenges still remain: Dr. Anthony Fauci

There are clinical trials underway for several potential treatments, however

As the U.S. government takes unprecedented measures to stop the spread of coronavirus throughout the country, companies are working at “rocket speed” to develop a vaccine.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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