With the number of novel coronavirus cases over 115-thousand and more than 4-thousand fatalities worldwide, researchers, biotech companies, universities and government agencies are scrambling for a vaccine to contain it.
Are we close to a COVID-19 vaccine? Is there hope of securing one and rolling that out across the population in time for this outbreak? The topic of our News In-depth our Dr. Jerome Kim, Director General of International Vaccine Institute.
Dr. Kim, thanks for coming to the program this evening.
First of all, how big is the threat of COVID-19 now in South Korea and the rest of the world?
Given the slowing pace of the daily increase in South Korea, some here are cautiously hoping that the peak, at least, in this country has passed. Would you agree with that?
The Sars-CoV-2 novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. What scientists know about this virus so far - what concerns you the most about it?
How does COVID-19 compare to SARS CoV and MERS CoV in case fatality ratio and transmissibility? ( Do you believe the WHO's figure of 3.4 percent mortality rate? )
Do you fear the novel coronavirus could end up being on the scale of the Spanish flu?
Is coronavirus now a pandemic? With coronavirus spreading rapidly across the world, at what point does the virus become a pandemic?
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread around the world, researchers have been scrambling to bring various treatments to clinical trials. Only a few are showing hope for success including the former Ebola drug candidate, remdesivir.
Until a vaccine is ready what treatments are there?
Vaccines prevent infections and the best way of doing that at the moment is good hygiene.
Treatment drugs treat and cure sickness while preventive vaccines don't treat or cure sickness - they prime your immune system to fight a potential disease.
There is currently no vaccine available to protect people against the disease. But when could that change? How do you create a vaccine?
A number of companies have announced progress. Some, using genetics-based vaccines, delivered samples to health agencies for evaluation.
But, the approval process for vaccines is much more demanding than for most medicines.
Even if the samples pass clinical tests without a hitch, production of a usable coronavirus vaccine will probably take 12 to 18 months.
Is there a hope of securing a vaccine and rolling that out across the population in time for this outbreak?
What good will a vaccine be if the virus mutates?
I was surprised to learn that we don't have vaccines for SARS or MERS. As the average person, should I be worried?
Do you believe COVID-19 will become endemic like the seasonal flu?
The cost of bringing a medicine from invention to pharmacy shelves is often estimated at about a billion dollars which is probably by the most conservative estimates and about 15 years. But, obviously, we need to keep doing so because it's absolutely critical for the human race?
As clinical development of vaccines takes a long time, there have been attempts in the U.S. and some European countries to accelerate clinical trials. Tell us about that.
The International Vaccine Institute has also joined in on efforts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Tell us. How far along are you?
So long as human beings are around, so long as infectious diseases are around, we need vaccines to bolster our immune systems and protect us from harm. Last but not least, could you briefly tell us the kind of role IVI plans to play now and into the future.
Dr. Jerome Kim, Director General of International Vaccine Institute, many thanks for your valuable insights this evening. We appreciate it.