Some Experts Believe COVID-19 Vaccine Unlikely Before Fall 2021

Despite some government projections that a vaccine could be made available in early November, a fall 2021 date is more likely, according to a recent study.

It is unlikely that a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine will be made available to the public before the fall of 2021, according to a recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 1 million deaths and there has been over 34.1 million confirmed cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. A race for a vaccine has yielded a number of promising candidates, but uncertainty still surrounds availability, safety, and efficacy.

A survey of 28 experts working in vaccinology was conducted in June 2020, the majority of whom were Canadian or American academics with an average of 25 years of vaccinology experience, according to the study. The survey asked a series of questions around when they believe the vaccine may be made available and possible setbacks.

On average, experts believe the vaccine will be made available in September or October 2021. June 2021 is thought to be the soonest there will be a widely available vaccine and July 2022 was the latest. Additionally, experts believe that a field study with at least 5000 participants will report results in March 2021, with December 2020 being the soonest and July 2021 being the latest.

According to the study, the experts believe a vaccine will be made available to high-risk groups in March/April 2021, with the soonest being February 2021 and the latest being December 2021.

According to the study, experts believe there is a 1 in 3 chance that the vaccine will carry a box warning from the FDA due to life threatening adverse effects. Additionally, experts believe that there is a 4 in 10 chance that the first large field study of at least 5000 participants will not yield efficacy.

"Our study finds that experts are largely in agreement about the timeline for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine," said Stephen Broomell, PhD, associate professor at the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, in the press release. "While 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."

Reference:

Expert opinion: COVID-19 vaccine rollout unlikely before fall 2021 [News Release] October 1, 2020; Montreal, Canada. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/mu-eoc100120.php. Accessed October 2, 2020.