The novel coronavirus, Covid-19, has taken the world by storm, which hit medical, economic and political institutions across the globe. Till date the deadly virus has infected 109,900 persons in at least 97 countries and taken away more than 3800 lives, according to the data cited in the The New York Times.
Who knew the virus which challenged the most elite research institutions would directly impact the political career of US President Donald Trump. On Monday, in an attempt to save himself the chance of getting re-elected, Trump held a meeting in the White House with leading health experts from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health, as well as pharmaceutical executives from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, and others. The key agenda of the meeting was to deliver a vaccine within a few months. At the meeting, Trump said, “I like the sound of a couple months better, if I must be honest.”
Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (N.I.A.I.D.) said that the task was nearly impossible as the earliest it could be brought in the market “in a year to a year and a half, no matter how fast you go”. “A vaccine that you make and start testing in a year is not a vaccine that’s deployable,” Fauci said.
John Shiver, the global head of vaccine research and development at the multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi, explained how different and difficult it was to treat something in people than test on healthy humans. Shiver said, “You certainly don’t want a vaccine that can make it worse. There have been some vaccine candidates historically that could actually enhance the disease.” Sanofi is developing a covid-19 vaccine with the United States Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Shiver told the New Yorker, “It’s difficult to see how, even in the case of an emergency, a vaccine could be fully ready for licensure in a year and a half.”
To fuel the research and development for the vaccine, the President signed an $8.3 billion emergency-aid package on Friday. There is a lot of pressure on scientific and medical community not only to understand the virus but also to develop a vaccine at the earliest. It is believed that as we head towards warmer months the virus would reduce in circulation but could reemerge in the fall.
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