Governments around the world have pledged billions of dollars for a COVID-19 vaccine and a number of pharmaceutical firms are in a race to develop and test potential drugs.
US-based drug powerhouses Moderna and Pfizer, along with the Oxford University vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca, have launched Phase 3 trials this week.
It's known to take many years to develop a new drug.
But at dire times as the global pandemic we are living in right now, with great cooperation and support it seems progress has been rather speedy.
How far along are we from getting the vaccine rolled out? When can the average person like myself get vaccinated?
It's the topic of our News In-Depth. Joining me live in the studio is Dr. Lee Han-sung, Professor of Internal Medicine at Severance Hospital.
Dr. Lee, good to see you again.
First off, what does it mean that Phase 3 trials have been reached?
(Do drug trials often have to go back to previous stages once it’s reached Phase 3?)
(Does it mean we really are close to a successful vaccine development?)
While Moderna launched its Phase 3 trials on 30,000 patients in the U.S., Pfizer’s 30,000 participants are spread across different countries. What kind of clinical trial differences can result from this variable?
While different drug companies are all aiming to reach the same goal - finding a cure for COVID-19, it seems the vaccines themselves aren’t the same.
We’ve heard of vaccine developers using genetic material to prompt the making of antibodies that can neutralize the coronavirus.
But the Oxford University vaccine uses a protein-based technology. How are these different?
It’s been a recurring concern, but there’s a reason drug development takes years to process tests and collect data, which also includes risks of side effects that have no expiration date.
What are some of the risks that COVID-19 vaccine trial participants have had to take into consideration? And with the rush that the global health industry is in to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 to end this pandemic, are there any stages of drug development that have had to been foregone?
South Korea was in the spotlight at the beginning of the pandemic outbreak in terms of its agile response in containing the spread, as well as its development of test kits.
But why have we been lagging behind other countries in competitiveness of new drug development?
UK Health Minister has said that under the "best-case scenario," a COVID-19 vaccine may be ready for Christmas this year.
How likely do you see that a clinically safe vaccine be available by the end of the calendar year?
Dr. Lee Han-sung, Professor of Internal Medicine at Severance Hospital, many thanks for your insights this evening. We appreciate it.