Developing coronavirus shots in less than
a year once felt like an overly ambitious, and maybe impossible, dream. The world’s most experienced pharmaceutical
companies have never been put to such a test.
Now, as a handful of vaccine makers accelerate
their candidates into late-stage trials and wealthy governments look to snap up supply, that hazy dream increasingly looks like an attainable reality. We could, indeed, see a limited number of shots
deployed to health-care workers this year.
That’s a historic feat.
But it’s time to re-frame the discussion about the so-called race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. In order
to quell the pandemic, we must ask not just when a shot will arrive. We also must grapple with how one will work once
we have it in hand.
There are more than 160 vaccines in various stages of development. Experimental
shots from the University of Oxford with AstraZeneca, China’s CanSino Biologics, Moderna and a partnership of Pfizer
and BioNTech are among the vanguard. Bloomberg is keeping up with these efforts, in real-time, in our new-and-improved vaccine tracker. No one candidate yet appears to be the silver-bullet.
Look closely at the data and you’ll
find yourself with more questions than answers: How many doses will be needed to achieve some semblance of immunity? How long
will that immunity last? Who will it benefit most? The young and healthy? What of the elderly and the immunocompromised?
Earlier this week, Pfizer’s Albert Bourla told us he envisions a potential future where the novel coronavirus could be here to stay, indefinitely. “There
is a likely scenario that either the vaccine’s immunity will not be lasting forever,” he said, “or that
the virus will mutate, or that the virus will find ways to come back again and again.” That could lead to long-term
demand for a shot.
Top pharmaceutical executives and scientists are still making their best
guesses. And governments around the world are hedging, too. The U.S., U.K., and Japan have all reached deals to secure hundreds
of millions of doses of a vaccine, should any prove successful in the clinic.
But broader success
will ultimately mean more than crossing a finish line. It will mean we, as a society, have the wherewithal to produce, provide
and pay to protect ourselves from Covid-19, and other coronaviruses that could one day come. — Riley Griffin
just as bloomberg has its tracker we have
started a map of where pharma is working most for humanity- we welcome your observations to add - firstname.lastname@example.org