Work on COVID-19 vaccine reveals unprecedented global partnership, says Ebola vaccine scientist

Scientists across the world are racing to develop and test vaccines to combat the novel coronavirus.

There are currently no licensed treatments or vaccines specifically for COVID-19. No vaccine is anticipated to be available for use before at least 2021, as any possible vaccine must be widely tested in humans before being distributed to hundreds of millions, if not billions, of citizens.

Yet researchers are collaborating at unparalleled rates, says Gary Kobinger, director of the Infectious Disease Research Center at Laval University in Quebec, Canada. Kobinger was a key scientist leading the development of an Ebola vaccine and has actively worked to combat other epidemics, including the Zika virus. He spoke The World’s Marco Werman about progress in developing a vaccine for COVID 19.

International researchers race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine

Marco Werman: Gary, where are you at in the process of developing a vaccine that would tackle the coronavirus?

Gary Kobinger: Well, we’re contributing to different vaccines, different initiatives with the belief that, for us, if we can support as many as possible, we can evaluate as many as possible so that at the end of the day, we have the best vaccine making it through phase one, two, three. Then we can select hopefully for more than one possible vaccine that will show the best potency and safety profile.

And vaccines, let’s remember, are not a cure. Just remind us quickly what the point of a vaccine is.

That’s correct, yes. So a vaccine is really to prevent disease — or at least to lessen the burden of a disease. So it’s really a preventive measure. Instead, a treatment is really an intervention that is given when somebody is already sick, is already infected, [for] minimizing the symptoms, the severity of the disease and even the length of the disease itself.

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So it seems like you’ve got some first good steps. When did you start your work?

We were made aware of the existence of the virus on the 1st of January, as a matter of fact, within 24 hours of China disclosing the details to the WHO. There are a lot of those warnings worldwide every month, as a matter of fact. Thankfully, most of them are not leading to major pandemics like we are seeing right now. You’ve seen clinical trials started already in the US.
And we are also supporting two other vaccines — both of which, actually, we’re hoping to see entering already clinical studies — phase one clinical trials — in June.

Gary, you pioneered vaccines and treatments for Ebola, for Zika, other diseases as well. What do you see as different about this coronavirus? What strikes you about it?

What strikes me in this virus is that we are lucky Read More in the Source