Is a Coronavirus Vaccine Coming Soon?

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Gabriela McGrath Moreira

As we search for a COVID-19 cure, who is leading the way in vaccine trials, and what are the updates?

Gabriela McGrath Moreira, Staff Writer

As COVID-19 continues, so does the research and clinical trials for a vaccine. The University of Miami has been conducting clinical trials in order to gain more data as Florida and many other states are researching possible solutions. President Trump has been especially keen on releasing a vaccine extremely soon to regain some popularity before the election. For everyone involved, these experiments are a high stakes game. Scientists are trying to discover and produce a vaccine as quickly as possible while simultaneously making sure it is safe and effective so people get the best results.

Locally, UM has been part of a large-scale international trial in partnership with Janssen pharmaceuticals where they are testing the Janssen vaccine. Just in South Florida, the university is enrolling up to 1,500 volunteers. Some of the key criteria researchers involved are keeping in mind while picking participants for their clinical trials include making sure that volunteers are 18 years of age or older.

It is also critical to enroll a diverse population in order to get the most accurate results that can benefit people of different races, ages and ethnicities. Another interesting aspect of these trials is that while some participants are getting an actual drug, others are being given a placebo. This is randomized so volunteers do not know what they are really receiving. The goal of these clinical trials is to evaluate whether or not this vaccine can prevent symptoms COVID-19 after a single dose.

The Janseen Vaccine seems to be one of the most promising vaccines, as its studies are leading the fourth largest scale ongoing COVID-19 trial. These are international vaccine trials that the United States, among other countries, is taking part in. Up to 60 thousand volunteers will be enrolled in the trial at up to nearly 215 clinical research sites throughout the U.S. and in foreign nations as well.

I think that Trump’s vaccine timeline is improbable to meet. The vaccine must go through extensive trials and speeding up the process may result in bad consequences.”

— junior Jasming Senel

As there is a rush for treatment, it is quite unprecedented to have a vaccine in these stages of the clinical trial in less than a year. However, with ongoing media coverage, scientists and private groups are being encouraged to come out with a vaccine while having transparent results.  President Trump has mentioned that he wants a vaccine as soon as possible and that the government is very close to releasing one, leaving many people skeptical because the creation of the vaccines is being spearheaded by privatized companies like Johnson & Johnson.

“I hope that if they release a vaccine, it is not due to political pressure but science-based or else the first few vaccines that come out may not be the best quality,” freshman Beatriz Carvalho said

Some scientists have expressed their concerns as they do not want Trump to put political pressure on the pharmaceutical companies by giving them a timeline or overriding FDA regulations because that could result in making the testing less accurate and effective. If public health officials do end up approving it, then the vaccine would be accessible to all Americans more quickly.

As we wait for a vaccine to come out, it is important to remember the basic mitigation efforts to keeping everyone safe. These precautions include wearing a mask, washing and sanitizing your hands as well as social distancing whenever possible.