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VIDEO

Setting Standards for a COVID-19 Vaccine

JUL 29, 2020 | KEVIN KUNZMANN
The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine pursuit has intensified in the last few weeks, as a handful of leading candidates have progressed to later-stage clinical trials and international distribution partnerships.

It’s becoming feasible that regulated, tested, and safe vaccines are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before the end of the year—but what does that mean for the pandemic?

Angela Rasmussen, PhD, insists it does not mean the end of it.

“Even if there is a vaccine available in late 2020, in early 2021, we still might not be able to see a benefit that allows us to relax the precautions that hopefully most of us are taking, and resume whatever normal will be in the post-pandemic world,” Rasmussen told Contagion®.

In an interview with Contagion, Rasmussen, a virologist and researcher with Columbia Public Health, set realistic standards for the early COVID-19 prophylaxis favorites. Though noting the earliest vaccines reaching real-world use will still provide public health benefit, she suggested the best vaccine may still be in early benefit.

In fact, a reasonable expectation for the first vaccine may be that it’s safe and effective in at least reducing COVID-19 disease severity. That could be enough to “change the game,” Rasmussen said.

But much more needs to be understood about the virus before a winning candidate can be determined.

“To some degree, people can model and forecast, but we still don’t know enough about long-term effective immunity, even resulting from natural infection to this virus, to really know what we’re talking about,” Rasmussen said.

 
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