Merck Chief Executive Kenneth Frazier recently told interviewers from Harvard Business School that telling people to expect a vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of the year is a “grave disservice to the public.”
He notes that potential vaccines may not have what it takes to treat a lot of people very fast. He added that some previous vaccine candidates were not only ineffective, they helped the virus invade cells in the body.
“If you’re going to use a vaccine on billions of people, you better know what that vaccine does.”
Merck has partnered with Austrian vaccine maker Themis Bioscience to make a vaccine and therapies to fight COVID-19, but its vaccine candidate is not yet in clinical trials. So, while Frazier has a point—no company should rush to put out an unsafe or ineffective vaccine—he also has a dog in the fight.
Several drug manufacturers have partnered with the U.S. government to try to get a COVID-19 vaccine onto the market by the end of the summer, to meet President Trump’s goal of producing 300 million vaccine doses by the end of 2021 as part of the Operation Warp Speed Program.
With over 100 potential vaccines in development, U.S. National Institutes of Health infectious disease guru Dr. Anthony Fauci, has said he is “cautiously optimistic” that a vaccine could be available by then.
The virus probably will continue to be a threat in the U.S. until the population develops “herd immunity,” when 60% to 80% of the population is immune. Epidemiologists fear that too many people will die of COVID-19 if a vaccine isn’t developed in time.
But if a vaccine is developed by the end of the year, it will be the fastest any vaccine has ever been developed. So far, no vaccine has been developed in less than four years. And after the vaccine is ready, hundreds of millions of doses must be produced and distributed.
Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice. Do not take action based solely on this article and always consult with an appropriate healthcare professional. This article is purely for informational purposes.