It's crazy to think that some places are in what is their third or fourth week of stay at home or shelter in place orders. With not being able to go out, the things that people can do is a little bit limited. With all the news of places, like New York City that have death rates on the rise (and not going down too much soon), people are starting to panic (or at least getting close to it). Despite all of that there might be some good news.
Last Thursday, Millionaire Bill Gates told "The Daily Show" that his foundation would be funding construction of factories for seven coronavirus vaccine candidates. He also said, however, that the foundation would be only picking one or two of those seven. Honestly, with the continued growth of people who have contracted or died from the virus, this might just possibly be one of the best things to hear about within the last week.
In a Washington Post op-ed article published early last week, Gates said some of the top candidates required unique equipment. In the same Opt-ed, Gates outlines three steps that we need to be taking in order to help slow or stop the spread of COVID-19.
The vaccine has already started entering the first phase of clinical testing in humans this past Monday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepted an application from Inovio Pharmaceuticals under the regulator's Investigational New Drug program. The company plans to inject its first volunteer test subject with the INO-4800 DNA, the vaccine it has developed and the second one to potentially start human trials in the US.
To start the trials, Inovio is enrolling 40 healthy adult participants at the University of Pennsylvania's medical school and in Kansas City, Missouri, at the Center for Pharmaceutical Research. Those participants will be given two doses of the vaccine each four weeks apart. If the results are positive, the company will then start another study focused on assessing the vaccine's efficiency against the virus.
The vaccine works by injecting a specifically engineered plasmid (a small, independent genetic structure) into a patient so that their cells can produce a desired, targeted antibody to fight off a specific infection, in this case, COVID-19. Any broad clearance or approval for use is still likely at least a year to 18 months away, but the fact that the company is able to start working trials now shows that a potential cure or vaccine mah not be that far away. The company expects to have early safety data by late summer and aims to produce 1 million doses by the end of 2020.
At that rate, maybe we can all get out of quarantine in time for summer vacation. Wouldn't that be great?
"Because our foundation has such deep expertise in infectious diseases, we've thought about the epidemic, we did fund some things to be more prepared, like a vaccine effort," Gates said. "Our early money can accelerate things."
He and his wife, Melinda Gates, have already pledged $100 million toward fighting the coronavirus pandemic, including trying to send at-home coronavirus test kits to people in Washington state, one of the states with the worst number of cases.
His help in this new vaccine could potentially save tons of lies if the virus ends up having a season as the flu does. Here's to hoping it doesn't.