“After that, by 2021, we hope to get two hundred million doses,” Fossey said during a direct question and answer with the Journal of the American Medical Association.
However, it remains unclear whether the vaccine will be effective against the new coronavirus.
Fossey said that the first candidate for the vaccine, presented by Moderna Biotechnology Company in partnership with NIAID, should enter the final phase of the experiments on volunteers, known as Stage 3, by mid-summer. He said preparations at national and international sites are already underway.
“The end of the real work of all this will be phase 3, which begins in the first week of July, hopefully,” Fushi said. “We want to get as many data points as possible.”
Stage 3 will include about 30,000 people. The vaccine will be tested in people between the ages of 18 and 55, as well as in the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.
“It will be the whole spectrum,” said Fauci.
Fossey said that the second stage of the trial started a few days ago. A few hundred volunteers will participate in that part of the trial.
Fossey said the plan is to manufacture doses of the vaccine even before it becomes clear whether it will work, making nearly 100 million doses by November or December. If it works, it can be published quickly.
Fauci said scientists should have sufficient data by November or December to determine if the vaccine is working.
The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK will follow a similar schedule. He said that a handful of other vaccine studies should start in one to two months only.
“I am cautiously optimistic that with so many of our candidates running through different platforms, we will have a vaccine that will make it transferable,” Fossey said. He said he is optimistic because, while the number of deaths from Covid-19 is “deep”, most people recover from this disease. Recovery shows that there is an immune response that can remove the virus.
“What tells us that if the body is able to perform an immune response to remove the natural infection virus, this is very good evidence for the concept,” Fossey said. “Having said that, there is absolutely no guarantee.”
In fact, even with 10 vaccines already in clinical trials and more than 120 others under development, many experts suspect that the vaccine will be available early next year. The main stages of experiments can be delayed, and ultimately, vaccines now being tested may not protect people from the virus. Millions of pre-made vaccine doses can be eliminated.
Fossey noted that he is also concerned about the robustness of the immune response. People develop antibodies to fight common colds caused by other strains of coronaviruses, but this protection generally lasts for about a year. This could mean that people need a new vaccine every year, as is the case with the flu.
Fossey said there is also a “big boost” going on in development programs for monoclonal antibodies, metastatic plasma and immunoglobulin. These are all treatments that use antibodies, just as vaccines do, but they provide direct, more temporary protection, and Covid-19 symptoms can also be treated.
Fossey said he would like to see treatments developed using monoclonal antibodies or convalescence plasma that protect the elderly and those at risk of the worst symptoms of Covid-19.
“This is a very high priority,” Fossey said.