Wait gets longer: COVID-19 vaccine may only be available in late 2021    

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New Delhi: Well the wait may get longer than expected. An effective vaccine to fight against COVID-19 is not likely to be available for the general public before the fall of 2021. This is according to experts working in the field of COVID-19 vaccine development.

Researchers at McGill University in Canada carried out a survey of 28 experts working in vaccinology in late June 2020. The majority of those surveyed were mostly Canadian or American academics. They had an average of 25 years of experience working in the field.

“Experts in our survey offered forecasts on vaccine development. They were generally less optimistic than the timeline of early 2021 offered by US public officials,” Jonathan Kimmelman, a professor at McGill University, said in a statement.

“In general they seem to believe that a publicly available vaccine next summer is the best-case scenario. There is the possibility that the time frame may stretch to 2022,” Kimmelman added. He is the senior author on the paper published in the ‘Journal of General Internal Medicine’.

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Many experts also believe that there may be some false starts before an effective vaccine is available.

“The experts we surveyed believe that there is a 1 in 3 chance that the vaccine will receive a safety warning label after approval. There is a 4 in 10 chance that the first large field study will not report efficacy,” said Patrick Kane. He is the lead author of the same paper, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University.

The study also showed that about one-third of those surveyed believe that vaccine development is likely to face two main setbacks.

The first vaccine widely deployed in the US and/or Canada will receive a boxed warning from the FDA. The warning will be to highlight serious or life-threatening adverse reactions, the researchers said.

“Our study finds that experts are largely in agreement about the timeline for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine,” said Stephen Broomell. He is an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University in the US.

“This does not track with many overly optimistic government projections. It reflects a belief that researchers are indeed on a faster pace to development compared to previous vaccines,” Broomell added.

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