Scientists begin search for COVID-19 vaccine

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"Administering Flu Vaccine" by Government of Prince Edward Island is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A woman receives a vaccination for the flu virus in her upper arm. With flu season nearing its peak, the school district is offering a chance for Frisco families to get vaccinated.

Lucas Barr, Editor-in-chief

As school is expected to remain closed for at least another month, many people are left wondering how long it will take for the COVID-19 outbreak to phase out. While there is no clear timeline, the fact remains Americans cannot be fully safe until herd immunity against COVID-19 is achieved. This largely depends on the ability to produce an effective vaccine, which director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthonry Fauci said could take 12 to 18 months.

Speaking with CNN, Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor College of Medicine, specializing in infectious diseases and vaccine development suggested Fauci’s projection might be unrealistic.

“Tony Fauci is saying a year to 18 months — I think that’s optimistic,” Hotez said. “Maybe if all the stars align, but probably longer.” 

Despite the news reporting new progress daily on new COVID-19 vaccine development in different labs across the world, only one lab in the U.S. has started clinical trials. Moderna launched its first phase one trial on March 16 in Seattle.

“It’s on target,” Fauci said during a White House briefing on April 1. “We’re still in phase one. There were three doses that we had to test. We’ve been through the first two doses. We’re on the highest dose now.”

Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh have also made steps toward developing a vaccine that could be administered with a small patch. The scientists have already conducted research on viruses similar to COVID-19.

“We had previous experience on SARS-CoV in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2014,” co-senior author of the study, Professor  Andrea Gambotto said in a statement. “These two viruses, which are closely related to SARS-CoV-2, teach us that a particular protein, called a spike protein, is important for inducing immunity against the virus. We knew exactly where to fight this new virus.”