In an effort to bring an effective COVID-19 vaccine to the US market by 2021, the White House launched Operation Warp Speed (OWS) last month and today named five vaccine candidates as the most likely to produce a viable vaccine in a record-breaking timeframe. The five vaccines include Moderna’s mRNA1273, currently in phase 2 trials; AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s AZD1222, now in clinical trials at multiple UK sites; a candidate from Johnson & Johnson; a Merck vaccine based on that company’s successful Ebola vaccine; and Pfizer and BioNTech’s BNT162. The accelerated programs are funded through $10 billion from Congress and $3 billion directed for National Institutes of Health (NIH) research. Earlier this week, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he was confident more than one COVID-19 vaccine would prove effective in a reasonable period of time. Francis Collins, MD, NIH director, said some vaccine candidates will be ready for large-scale testing as soon as the beginning of July. The phase 3 trials would involve as many as 30,000 volunteers for each candidate vaccine, with half the volunteers receiving a placebo, Collins told National Public Radio. If successful, this will be the most rapid vaccine development program in history.

 

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