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Coronavirus Vaccine

August 13, 2020 Read Time - 7 minutes

About Author

Jennifer is a freelance writer in the Midwest who writes about a variety of topics but especially enjoys educating people about their health and the health of their pets.

Coronavirus Vaccine

Whether you’re concerned about your risk of serious COVID-19 complications or you’re just anxious for life to go back to normal, you may be wondering when a coronavirus vaccine will be ready.

Here’s all the latest information on the development of a coronavirus vaccine. 

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Is There a Vaccine For the Coronavirus?

There is no vaccine approved in the United States for the coronavirus, yet. There are more than 165 vaccines being studied around the world, with many currently in clinical trials. 

Russia just announced that they have approved a vaccine without performing large-scale studies.

The president, Vladimir Putin, said that the vaccine “works effectively enough.” However, there are major concerns about approving a vaccine that’s only been tested on a very small scale. Aside from the possibility that the vaccine isn’t effective, it could cause potentially serious side effects. 

Most other countries will likely complete full-scale testing programs before approving a vaccine. 

How Long Until There Will Be a Coronavirus Vaccine?

The goal of the US government’s Operation Warp Speed is to have 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine by January 2021. Several vaccines are currently or will soon be going to Phase 3 trials, where the vaccine will be tested on thousands of people to check for side effects and efficacy. 

One, or even more than one, of those vaccines may be ready by that deadline if they pass Phase 3 trials. However, it is too soon to know if any of them will be safe and effective enough in the general population.

While it is a goal, there is no way to guarantee that a vaccine will be widely available by January. 


Read: What Is Remdesivir?


Current COVID-19 Vaccine Research 

Researchers around the world are working on more than 165 vaccines against COVID-19, with 30 vaccines in human trials.

Here are some of the top 3 contenders:

Moderna

Moderna recently announced that their mRNA-1273 vaccine will be moving into Phase 3 clinical trials soon. It’s the first Phase 3 trial begun under Operation Warp Speed and will involve 30,000 adults at 89 clinical research sites around the country. 

Phase 1 results showed the vaccine brought about an immune response; however, more than half the participants experienced side effects which were mostly mild, normal vaccine side effects. 

Pfizer

Pfizer is working on more than one vaccine, but only one so far, BNT162b2, which is being developed together with the German company BioNTech, is ready to move into a combined Phase 2/3 trial. The trial will be carried out at around 120 worldwide sites. 

In the combined Phase 1/2 trial, this vaccine triggered an immune response, produced antibodies, and showed a favorable overall tolerability profile. 


Read: Antibody Testing Update


Novavax

Novavax is hoping to start Phase 3 trials of its vaccine next month. In Phase 1 trials, the vaccine produced a significant number of antibodies and brought about a response by immune cells.

However, five out of 106 people who got the vaccine experienced serious side effects like nausea, muscle pain, and joint pain. 

Vaccine Development Process 

There are several steps involved in the process of making and testing a vaccine. 

  • Preclinical testing: Scientists test the vaccine on animals like monkeys or mice to see if it produces an immune response.
  • Phase 1 safety trials: Scientists give the vaccine to just a few people to test dosage and safety and to confirm that it stimulates the immune system.
  • Phase 2 expanded trials: Scientists test the vaccine on hundreds of people split into groups, like the elderly and children, to see if the vaccine acts differently in each group. This is to further test the vaccine’s ability to stimulate the immune system and its safety.
  • Phase 3 efficacy trials: Scientists give the vaccine to thousands of people. They wait to see how many vaccinated people become infected compared to how many people in a placebo group get infected. The FDA said that a coronavirus vaccine must protect at least 50% of vaccinated people to be effective. The large Phase 3 trials are also large enough to show relatively rare side effects that may not pop up in smaller studies. 
  • Approved: Regulators in each country review the results and decide whether or not to approve the vaccine. A vaccine may receive emergency use authorization during a pandemic before getting formal approval. After a vaccine is licensed, researchers continue to monitor people to ensure it’s safe and effective.
  • Combined phases: It’s also possible to accelerate vaccine development by combining phases. Some COVID-19 vaccines are currently in Phase 1/2 trials, for example, and they are tested for the first time on hundreds of people. 

Types of Vaccines in Development 

Part of the reason there is so many vaccines in development is because there are many different types of vaccines:

  • Genetic vaccines use at least one of the coronavirus’s genes to provoke an immune response.
  • Viral vector vaccines provoke an immune response by using a virus to deliver coronavirus genes into cells.
  • Protein-based vaccines use a coronavirus protein or a fragment of a protein to provoke an immune response.
  • Whole-virus vaccines use an inactivated or weakened version of the coronavirus to provoke an immune response.
  • Repurposed vaccines are already in use for other diseases that researchers suspect may also protect against Covid-19.

Are Vaccines Safe?

Vaccines only get approved by the FDA if they’re proven to be safe and effective.

While any vaccine can have side effects, which are usually mild, a vaccine that causes a lot of severe side effects won’t be approved. So yes, generally speaking, vaccines are safe. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There an Approved Treatment for the Coronavirus?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved any medication specifically for COVID-19 treatment. However, they have approved remdesivir for emergency use to test its effectiveness. It’s an anti-viral medication given through an IV to those in the hospital who are seriously ill with the disease. 

Will the Flu Shot Help Fight the Coronavirus?

No, the flu is a completely different virus than the coronavirus. The flu shot is likely to be ineffective against COVID-19. 

Can Antibiotics Work Against the Coronavirus?

No, antibiotics only fight off bacterial infections. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections like the coronavirus. 

If I’ve Been Exposed to COVID-19, When Will I Get Sick?

The incubation period of the coronavirus is about three to 14 days. That’s how long it takes after you get infected before you start showing symptoms. You can spread the virus after you’ve picked it up and before you start showing symptoms, which is why masks, social distancing, and hand washing are so important. 

Where Can I Get COVID-19 Antibody Testing?

If you think you’ve already had the coronavirus, PlushCare offers antibody testing. For insured, in-network patients, it’s totally free to talk to a doctor to see if you qualify. If you do, they can provide you with a referral for antibody testing

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

Book an appointment PlushCare-App-Steps

What if I’m Struggling with My Mental Health?

A June survey showed that nearly half (49%) of American young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 exhibited symptoms of anxiety or depression, including people without a previous mental health diagnosis. If you’ve been struggling with your mental health, PlushCare may be able to help. 


Read: Can You Buy Anxiety Medication Online?


PlushCare’s trusted doctors can prescribe antidepressants and some medications for anxiety (with the exception of controlled medications like Xanax).

You can have a video or phone appointment, and if the doctor thinks you would benefit from medication, they can electronically send it to your local pharmacy. 


You can also have a COVID-19 screening and information sessions with our doctors. They can screen you for symptoms, recommend next steps and answer any questions you may have, including questions about a coronavirus vaccine.


It’s easy to get started with PlushCare. Simply click here, call (888)798-0620, or download the app from the App Store or Google Play.  


Read More About Coronavirus


Sources

The New York Times. Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker. Accessed on August 8, 2020 at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html

CNN. These 3 Covid-19 vaccines have been in the news. Here’s what you need to know about them. Accessed on August 8, 2020 at https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/06/health/covid-19-vaccines-explainer/index.html

NPR. FDA Adviser: Not Realistic To Expect A COVID-19 Vaccine In 2020. Accessed on August 8, 2020 at https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/08/05/899411652/fda-adviser-not-realistic-to-expect-a-covid-19-vaccine-in-2020

NPR. Prices For COVID-19 Vaccines Are Starting To Come Into Focus. Accessed on August 8, 2020 at https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/08/06/899869278/prices-for-covid-19-vaccines-are-starting-to-come-into-focus

The New York Times. Russia Approves Coronavirus Vaccine Before Completing Tests. Accessed on August 11, 2020 at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/11/world/europe/russia-coronavirus-vaccine-approval.html

National Alliance on Mental Illness. America’s Mental Health Crisis is Exploding During the Coronavirus Pandemic. Accessed on August 11, 2020 at https://www.nami.org/Press-Media/In-The-News/2020/America-s-Mental-Health-Crisis-is-Exploding-During-the-Coronavirus-Pandemic?feed=In-the-news

Mayo Clinic. COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Drugs: Are There Any That Work? Accessed on Agust 11, 2020 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/expert-answers/coronavirus-drugs/faq-20485627

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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