As the pandemic keeps spreading around the globe companies and academic labs are racing to develop a vaccine that would help societies get back to normal. The pace at which these vaccines are developed is unprecedented in history.
The federal government plans to fund and conduct studies of no less than three experimental coronavirus vaccines starting this summer, according to a lead government vaccine researcher, writes The Wall Street Journal.
"These so called phase III trials are expected to involve tens of thousands of subjects at dozens of sites around the United States," John Mascola, director of the vaccine research center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said to the WSJ.
Three companies have vaccines ready for phase 3 trials. Modernas vaccine enters final stage of testing in July followed by candidates from AstraZeneca and J&J.
The studies are meant to determine a vaccine’s safety and effectiveness and mark the final stage of testing.
There are several phases of clinical trials necessary before a medication or vaccine is granted regulatory approval. Phase 0 studies how the human body processes a drug. Phase I identifies dangerous side effects and other safety concerns, and phase II trials measure whether the drug actually treats the condition it’s supposed to.
Finally, there’s phase III: large-scale tests that compare the drug or vaccine against a placebo. Many drugs don’t ever reach this phase of the process, so the fact that three COVID-19 vaccines are already there is a promising sign for the fight to end this pandemic.