Home Health News Here’s a realistic timeline for a coronavirus vaccine – TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press

Here’s a realistic timeline for a coronavirus vaccine – TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press

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Seeking a vaccine

The search is on for a drug for COVID-19. Researchers say it will take time, and the likelihood of a quick fix is low.

The process

On March 16, 2020, the first volunteer in the U.S. received a dose of an experimental coronavirus vaccine in Seattle. As many as 40 other companies are working on a vaccine around the world. Experts expect development to take 12-18 months at the fastest.

Vaccine basics

An epidemiologist trying to find a suitable vaccine for COVID-19 is likened to a captain building a ship while at sea. The pandemic has already begun and they are trying to catch up. Testing on other coronaviruses such as SARS began in 2002 and might offer clues.

Weakened or dead disease bacteria are introduced into the patient, often by injection or nasal spray.

White blood cells are triggered to produce antibodies to fight the disease.

If patient encounters disease later, antibodies neutralize the invading cells.

Therapeutic search

As the race for a COVID-19 vaccine continues, research is also being conducted on drugs that might decrease symptoms of infected people. Today there are no proven therapeutic drugs that treat COVID-19, but studies are being conducted.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota are testing two drugs, the malaria treatment drug hydroxychloroquine and the blood pressure drug losartan, to see whether either is effective in blocking the virus’s reproductive processes. The CDC has more information about the drugs and says they are being studied in several hundred clinical trials across the globe.

Japanese research

A drug used in Japan to treat influenza is being studied for its effectiveness in treating COVID-19. The British newspaper The Guardian reported that China’s science and technology ministry said the antiviral drug Favipiravir showed positive outcomes in clinical trials involving 340 people.

Patients in China who had tested positive for COVID-19 got a negative virus test back in four days, as a median (half showed a negative test earlier and half later than four days). That was compared with a negative test about 11 days later, as a median, for patients not on the drug.

In that same trial, lung condition improved in about 91% of patients taking Favipiravir, compared with 62% who weren’t taking the antiviral drug.

U.S. vaccination coverage

Percentage of children age 19-35 months receiving vaccinations in 2017.

Vaccine innovation

In 1938, Jonas Salk and Thomas Francis developed the first vaccine against flu viruses. Salk would subsequently use this experience to develop a polio vaccine in 1952.

Influenza vaccination was added to the U.S. childhood immunization schedule in 2004. But there are hundreds of types of flu around the world.

Sources: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, BBC, The Guardian, Our World in Data, California Department of Public Health, Historyofvaccines.org

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