Health Desk: May 23, 2020: The United States plans a massive testing effort involving more than 100,000 volunteers and a half dozen or so of the most promising vaccine candidates in an effort to deliver a safe and effective one by the end of 2020, scientists leading the program told Reuters.
The project will compress what is typically 10 years of vaccine development and testing into a matter of months, testimony to the urgency to halt a pandemic that has infected more than 5 million people, killed over 335,000, and battered economies worldwide.
To get there, leading vaccine makers have agreed to share data and lend the use of their clinical trial networks to competitors should their own candidate fail, the scientists said, reports Reuters.
Candidates that demonstrate safety in small early studies will be tested in huge trials of 20,000 to 30,000 subjects for each vaccine, slated to start in July.
Between 100,000 and 150,000 people may be enrolled in the studies, said Dr. Larry Corey, a vaccine expert at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Centre in Seattle, who is helping design the trials.
"If you don't see a safety problem, you just keep going," Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told Reuters.
The US government has committed billions of dollars to help manufacturers produce doses of vaccines that may never prove successful.