NC health leaders say ‘no corners cut’ with COVID-19 vaccine development


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The COVID-19 vaccine is on track to be the fastest one developed in history.

“I think the progress the industry has made has been really incredible,” said Dr. Jeff Wolf, founder and CEO of Heat Biologics.

Typically, vaccines take several years, even decades, to be ready.

The quickest one developed to date was for mumps, which took four years.

“It’s really amazing. We’re used to clinical trials taking so much longer and that includes vaccine trials and other trials,” said Dr. Thomas Holland, infectious disease doctor at Duke University.

Researchers go through several steps to create a vaccine, from exploratory phases to testing on animals then humans.

“Vaccine trials certainly follow these steps I think but not nearly at this light speed that you’re seeing,” said Dr. Sam Fleishman, chief medical officer at Cape Fear Valley Health System.

So why has COVID-19’s been able to move so fast?

For one, experts say the entire science community’s come together to work on it, putting in more days and longer hours.

“The vaccines were built upon years of work in developing vaccines for similar viruses, such as SARS,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Cohen said billions of dollars have also been invested in clinical trials and manufacturing the vaccine.

There’s been coordinated government support and oversight to have certain steps take place at the same time to shorten the process.

Government officials said that ups financial risk, but not product risk.

“All of this allowed for our scientific community to shorten the time in getting us a safe and effective vaccine, so no corners cut,” said Cohen.

They’re not at the finish line yet. The vaccine candidates still need to be approved by the FDA.

State leaders said at the rate we’re going certain groups of people are going to have access to the vaccine this month.

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