Scientists have been working around the clock to find a way to halt the Covid-19 pandemic. Experts believe the best way to do that is with a vaccine. This medicine would give people immunity, or the ability to fight off an infection, making it less likely that they’ll contract the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
Usually, it takes a long time—between 10 and 15 years—to create a vaccine against a disease. “The fastest reported vaccine was developed in four years, and that was the mumps vaccine,” in the 1960s, says Dr. Amesh Adalja, an expert on infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. Mumps is a viral infection that causes painful swelling in a person’s face. Scientists aim to create a U.S. government-approved vaccine against Covid-19 in much less time—by the end of 2020. That’s just one year after the first Covid-19 cases were reported in China.
This lightning-fast development has been aided by the U.S. government’s “Operation Warp Speed.” The project gave billions of dollars to pharmaceutical companies to create a Covid-19 vaccine. There are several promising candidates in the final phase of testing. Companies have already started producing millions of doses of these vaccines. That way, if deemed safe and effective, they can be distributed to the public as soon as possible. This has never happened before, says Dr. Craig Spencer, the director of global health in emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. Usually, a vaccine isn’t manufactured in large quantities until after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves it.