In late June, Indian firm Bharat Biotech announced their vaccine was ready for human trials, becoming the first COVID-19 vaccine in India to do so.
We’re now learning Bharat Biotech announced an aggressive deadline of August 15, 2020 for COVID-19 availability. This is by far the most aggressive availability we’ve reported on so far, beating Pfizer’s estimate of 100 million doses by October 2020 provided an Emergency Use Declaration is cleared.
To put this into context, we as a planet have never produced a vaccine anywhere near this pace. The current record holder goes to the mumps vaccine developed in 1967 by Maurice Hilleman over 4 years.
The pace of vaccines for COVID-19 is indeed fast, but may be outpaced by advancements to vaccine technology since the late 60s. Still, some experts on vaccines have expressed concerns about these ambitious deadlines.
Dr. Paul Offit is the director of the Vaccine Education center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and suggested current reports of vaccine advancement are overblown.
In an interview with PBS he stated, “I wouldn’t say any vaccine has the lead. I think Moderna has the lead in press releases, but…all these programs are very early in their development… This is being done quickly for a virus that we don’t know a lot about, or at least that continues to surprise us, so I really wish companies would stop saying when this vaccine is going to be out, because they don’t know that yet. Why don’t we just do this one step at a time, do it carefully and let’s see what we find before we start crowing into the microphone?
Both Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila plan to begin human trials this month.