Why the search for a vaccine can’t go any faster – and shouldn’t. Opportunities and limits in researchers’ race against time and the virus.
The great hope for a corona vaccine
The race for a vaccine against COVID-19 is in full swing. What usually takes years is set to happen much faster this time. But experts are dampening overly high expectations.
All over the world, biotech companies and research institutes are competing for the first corona vaccine, which has attracted numerous politicians and personalities. This is also a matter of reputation and a lot of money.
The expectations are high
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the EU Commission, hopes that an active substance will be developed by the end of the year. British expert and government advisor Jeremy Farrar even expects this to be the case by autumn. However, it will then take another year before such a preparation is available on a mass scale. Microsoft founder Bill Gates called on the G20 economic powers to allocate more money to research. The vaccine alliance CEPI, which he co-founded, is in the process of developing an active substance that could be ready for use in 18 months. However, this would require two billion US dollars.
The Swiss immunologist Martin Bachmann from the Inselspital in Bern is also taking part in the global race - and with a very sporty schedule. "Our vaccine should be ready in October," says Bachmann. The financing of the project is well underway and the approval should also be granted more quickly than usual. Bachmann plans to start initial tests on volunteers in August - pressure and responsibility are immense.
A vaccine must be safe
Very few experts expect that an effective vaccine, available in huge quantities, will be available before the end of this year. Usually, it takes about 15 years to develop such preparations. Coronavirus is much faster because biotechnological methods are used, but the German Paul Ehrlich Institute warns against speeding up the process too much. A vaccine for millions of people must be well tolerated and absolutely safe.