The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has taken a substantial toll on human life, not to mention our way of life. With over 14 million confirmed global cases and the death toll approaching 612,000, it is one of the most significant crises in recent history. In the United States (US), the country with the most cases and deaths, confirmed cases exceed 3.8 million and over 141,000 deaths have been reported as a result of this outbreak. As cases surge in certain parts of the country and the world, safe and effective vaccines and therapies are crucial to combatting this virus.  

Currently, there are no US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved treatments or vaccines for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Over 200 agents are being evaluated to treat the virus. These include new emerging molecular entities as well as approved drugs that are already available to treat other conditions and now being repurposed for COVID-19. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 24 vaccine candidates have entered human trials and over 140 vaccine hopefuls are in preclinical evaluation.

Scientists around the world are working tirelessly to discover a vaccine for COVID-19. Vaccines candidates go through many stages of study. The average time to develop a vaccine ranges from 10 to 15 years. The Ebola vaccine, newly-minted in December 2019, only took about 6 years to be approved, whereas an HIV/AIDS vaccine has still not come to market after about 40 years. Given this pandemic’s magnitude, extraordinary measures from public and private stakeholders have been introduced to accelerate vaccine development.

COVID-19 has presented us with many challenges. Mitigation measures and safe and effective vaccines and treatments are key to restoring a new normalcy.