The Vaccine Was Fast. Here’s How to Make it Faster

It leverages expertise to respond more quickly to outbreaks by “pivoting to work together,” said Jean Patterson, program manager for the CREID network..

Researchers can use a prototype pathogenic approach to study how and where infectious diseases emerge from wildlife to jump into humans. Reporting to 10 centers in the United States and 28 other countries, scientists are developing diagnostic, therapeutic and vaccine families that can be targeted and deployed faster the next time “Pathogen X” breaks out around the world.

Krammer, who did not respond to maintenance requests, hypothesized that new vaccines could be developed just 3 weeks after a new virus was discovered, and could be used immediately in a phase 3 trial – passing phase 1-2 tests. “Since a production correlate has been determined for a closely related virus, the correlate can be used to measure vaccine efficacy,” he writes.

Then the results of the clinical trial could be available almost 3 months later. And while clinical trials are ongoing, production could be ramped up globally and distribution chains activated ahead of time, so that by that 3-month timeframe, vaccine deployment could begin immediately, he suggests.

New world records would be set. And in the event that the emerging virus is the same or nearly indistinguishable from any of the vaccines developed, existing stocks could already be used for Phase 3 trials, saving even more time.

But how fast is it too fast?

Wang, now a professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, says he’s not sure doing a number of phase 1 and 2 trials on related viruses would be enough to replace the initial studies of a vaccine against a new pathogen.

More investment in understanding the immune response to a wide range of viruses will help inform future vaccine development, but the proposed schedule for the Phase 3 trial would be the absolute best case scenario, he says. “And it depends heavily on the infection rate at the sites selected for vaccine studies,” he says. In the Oxford AstraZeneca studies, it was asked early on whether there would be enough cases to collect evidence given the low infection rate in the UK during the summer.

“For a virus that spreads less efficiently than SARSCoV-2, it may take much longer for enough events to occur in the vaccinated population to assess effectiveness,” says Wang.

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