Experts see promise in COVID-19 vaccine research, but timing is still up in the air

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DAVIS, Calif. (KTXL) — UC Davis is one of many institutions with a large focus right now on COVID-19 testing and research.

“Really, it’s been unprecedented in terms of the sharing of information by scientists, by researchers and also by the journals, the publications have been sharing,” UC Davis Children’s Hospital Dr. Dean Blumberg said. “I’ve really been pleased with that.”

“The last I heard there was 156 vaccine candidates,” University of Maryland School of Medicine Dr. Robert Gallo said.

There is quite a bit of consensus among these scientists that yes, a COVID-19 vaccine will become available. The timing of that however, is still a subject of debate.

“I think what’s being confused, and the scientists and the officials are adding to the confusion is people are confusing a candidate with a vaccine,” Gallo said. “I’d like to say we have a vaccine when we have a vaccine, when we know it works and we know it’s safe.”

And it will take time to make and administer enough doses to provide worldwide immunity.

“We are talking potentially about seven billion vaccines,” Inovio Pharmaceuticals researcher Dr. Kate E. Broderick said.

It’s also unknown how long the immunity from a successful vaccine will last.

“Based on the other coronaviruses, the best information is one to two years,” Blumberg said.

And there is the question of whether you have lifetime immunity if you’ve already had COVID-19 and recovered.

“If you did have an antibody test, it wouldn’t mean that you shouldn’t mask or do social distancing or wash your hands because we don’t know what level of immunity you have. And moreover, we don’t know how long it’s going to last,” Dr. Allison Brashear, dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine, said.

The discussion highlights how much we still don’t know about this new virus. But it also reminds us that many dedicated researchers are working daily to find the answers.

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