Washington: A cure or vaccine for the coronavirus infection, which has brought the world economy and public health system to the brink of collapse, is the need of the hour. The search for a vaccine has begun around the globe at an intensity never before seen in medical research.
According to the experts, a vaccine is the only tool that will bring the virus to heel and allow life around the world to normalize. Worldwide the coronavirus cases are nearing 3.5 million mark with 244,660 people succumbing to the deadly infection.
Last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a "landmark" international collaboration to accelerate the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. Launching the initiative, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the world needs the tools to fight coronavirus and need them fast.
The European Union has pledged to set up an international medical program to lead the global response to fighting coronavirus with an initial pledge of raising USD 8 billion to find a vaccine and treatment for the pandemic.
In Britain, clinical trials have begun of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by scientists at Oxford University's Jenner Institute. Meanwhile, other developers across Europe have also stepped up their works on their own experimental shots against the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Within the United States, at least 115 vaccine projects are going on in laboratories at companies and research labs, reported the Washington Post.
According to the Post, a goal in the United States is to deliver a vaccine within 12 to 18 months.
The White House put together a task force called Operation Warp Speed to try to move even faster, making hundreds of millions of doses ready by January.
However, scientists around the world have also expressed concern over fast-forwarding the decades-long process of finding vaccines.
"The 26 years it took us to make the rotavirus vaccine is pretty typical. If it's 12 to 18 months, you're skipping steps," said the Post quoted Paul Offit, who developed a vaccine for rotavirus. "Is that a little risky? Yes it is, but so is getting infected with the virus." Thought designing a promising vaccine is easy, showing that it is safe and effective, and then scaling up production can takes years or even decades.
However, researchers are now trying to compress that timeline in ways they never have before.
A Beijing company is trying an inactivated virus. Giant pharmaceutical companies, flush with government funding, are turning their vaccine platforms toward coronavirus.
Researchers at Texas A&M University are repurposing an existing tuberculosis vaccine to see if it can prevent deaths or severe illness.
To make things more difficult, as the infection spread across the world, scientific teams have had to change how they work, practising social distancing in their labs so the virus doesn't take out the effort to combat it.
Philanthropist Bill Gates has said that things cannot really return to normal until the world's 7 billion people are vaccinated.