UW Virology head: Vaccine still a year away, but ‘everybody’s working as fast as they can’

May 1, 2020, 10:45 AM | Updated: 12:43 pm
covid vaccines...
A pharmacist gives Jennifer Haller the first shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 in March in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

While the University of Washington’s virology lab has focused mainly on coronavirus testing, development on a vaccine has been a priority across the globe.

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That’s had dozens of vaccines currently running through trials, as labs have rushed to get a finished product to market.

“This is sort of an all hands on deck sort of approach,” UW Virology’s Dr. Keith Jerome told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “The choice has essentially been ‘let’s get them all started and everybody just start working as fast as you can, and we will figure out which ones work.'”

Many of these vaccines are already being tested in humans to see whether they’re safe, and if they can actually help produce the antibodies needed to fight the virus.

“That’s going really fast,” Jerome noted. “I’m optimistic — maybe we’re getting closer to a year from now. The people who obviously are most closely responsible for this probably hate when we put timelines on it, but everybody’s working as fast as they can possibly go on this.”

But even with labs doing what they can to speed along the process, it’s not just the development itself that have us roughly a year away from a final product.

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“Remember, we not only need to develop this vaccine, but then we need to make hundreds of millions, and even billions of doses,” Dr. Jerome pointed out.

Thankfully, there are newer technologies in play that can help ramp up production “much, much faster” than labs would typically be able to do for something like the flu vaccine.

In the meantime, Jerome points to progress on the vaccine that so far has been “pretty good,” while his lab continues to deal with things on the testing side.

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UW Virology head: Vaccine still a year away, but ‘everybody’s working as fast as they can’