Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump suggested on several occasions that a vaccine against the new virus should be ready by the end of the year,media reported. At a briefing last Monday, he said a vaccine could be “developed by the end of the year”. A few days later, he told Gereldo Rivera in a radio interview that the vaccine could be launched around November 3, the day of the presidential election. Later that same day, he doubled down on the statement.
While Mr. Trump is struggling with the facts, the prediction may not seem entirely far-fetched, given the speed at which vaccines are being developed and tested, but his optimism may not be consistent with reality. Two vaccine experts told CNN that November 3 is not a realistic target date for the vaccine.
“It’s impossible,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccineologist at Baylor College of Medicine, after reviewing early data from Moderna. Moderna recently began phase III vaccine trials in the United States. CNN obtained part of A moderna’s email friday to the head of the vaccine trial, which revealed that 4,536 subjects were involved. It is reported that the phase three trial began on July 27, and Moderna hopes to recruit a total of 30,000 subjects. Moderna said its phase three trial “will be completed in September.”
At that rate, Moderna won’t be able to reach its goal of registering 30,000 people by the end of next month, CNN reported. That said, only 54 of the 89 sites the company plans to use in its research are currently operational, which means that the pace should accelerate significantly in the coming weeks as more sites open.
Unfortunately, however, even if Moderna can recruit 30,000 people for its phase iii trial sonbys by September 30, vaccine experts say the public will not have access to a safe and effective vaccine before Election Day. “I don’t think it’s possible,” Dr. Paul Offit, a vaccineologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told CNN.
Assuming Moderna can vaccinate 30,000 people over the next month and a half, the 30,000 will only take the first dose. According to Offit, they have to wait 28 days to receive a second, or final dose, and then two more weeks before the vaccine takes effect. According to such a timetable, it is almost impossible to see why it is almost impossible to have vaccines ready for public consumption by November 3.
Two vaccineologists interviewed by CNN believe the results of Moderna’s phase III trial could be ready in the first quarter of 2021. “Maybe by Inauguration Day we’ll see if the vaccine is effective and we can assess its safety,” Hotez said. “It is reported that the President of the United States Inauguration Day is January 20, 2021.