Experts Say They Expect a COVID-19 Vaccine No Later Than January 2021

Leaders of Operation Warp Speed optimistic for a coronavirus disease 2019 vaccine following multi-billion dollar investments in several candidates.

Leaders of Operation Warp Speed, the push by the Department of Defense for a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine, said during a press conference today that they are on track to deliver millions of doses no later than January 2021.

With multiple large investments in 6 vaccine candidates to date, including a $2 billion investment in GlaxoSmithKline’s candidate and a $1 billion investment in Johnson & Johnson’s candidate, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Francis Collins, MD, PhD, said he is optimistic that at least 1 candidate will be approved for widespread distribution.

“I am cautiously optimistic at least 1 of these, by the end of the year, will turn out to be safe and effective,” Collins said during the press conference.

In addition to financial investments in various vaccine candidates, the Trump administration also announced a collaboration with Moderna to produce 100 million doses of its COVID-19 investigational vaccine. In the press conference, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Paul Mango, MBA, said this amounts to an additional $1.5 billion in support for Moderna’s vaccine.

Mango emphasized that in addition to the unprecedented financial investment in a vaccine, HHS has maintained extremely close communication with officials at the FDA, providing them with a constant stream of data between developers and the agency as it relates to clinical trials.

“This is a common practice for the FDA, but in this case, it is particularly intensive as it deals with Operation Warp Speed,” Mango said.

Clinical trials for therapeutics have also been ongoing, with promising trials of monoclonal antibodies, convalescent plasma, among other treatments. Mango said more than 60,000 Americans have already received convalescent plasma therapy as part of expanded access protocol and he expects promising updates from these trials in the coming weeks.

Collins added that amid the multitude of clinical trials, priorities have been set for monoclonal antibodies, blood thinners, immunomodulators, remdesivir, and dexamethasone. He hopes to expand this list, however, with even more clinical trials and data.