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Will we get a coronavirus vaccine in 2021? Everything you need to know

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Experts hope that a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus will be available sooner rather than later.

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Visit the WHO website for the latest updates and information on the coronavirus pandemic.

If it seems like we’m stuck in a holding pattern waiting for one or more vaccines to run out coronavirus pandemic, it’s because we are. Experts agree that without a vaccine, the only ways to contain the virus are the things we already do: Masks, social distancing, testing followed by contact tracking. But these measures, even if they are effective if strictly followed, are uncomfortable at best and purely political charged at worst – not to mention, people seem to have a hard time following them.

Therefore, it is easier to limit the locking restrictions almost always nail in new cases of coronavirus, which calls on government leaders to bring back lockdowns. The only thing that is expected to break that cycle is a vaccine. So, how much longer do we have to wait, and where are we in the vaccine development process now?

If you live in the industrialized world, according to Bill Gates, make no major plans for the next year or two. “For the rich world, we should largely be able to end this thing by the end of 2021, and for the world at large by the end of 2022,” he told Wired.

Below we examine the current landscape for a vaccine against coronavirus development. This article is frequently updated and is intended to be a general overview, not a source of medical advice. If you are looking for more information on coronavirus testing, here you can find a test site near you, how to know if you are eligible for a test and how to get a home coronavirus test.

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Important COVID-19 vaccine news


An effective coronavirus vaccine may be the only way to stop preventative measures, such as social distancing and face masks.

James Martin / CNET

The COVID vaccine is developing faster

Several acceleration efforts are currently underway, such as the White House’s Operation Warp Speed, which is intended to cut through the law firm to accelerate vaccine development and has hundreds of millions of vaccine doses ready to distribute as soon as they receive FDA approval.

Vaccines usually take about 10 to 15 years to develop and approve through four phases that include human trials. But with Operation Warp Speed, rather than submitting all parts of the application after all four phases have been completed, approved vaccine projects can send data to the FDA piece by piece.

At the same time, the program also supports financial support for starting production of doses while clinical trials are still ongoing. This means that if and when these vaccines are approved, there will already be a stock of doses ready to be distributed nationally. “I hope that by the time we get well into the second half of 2021, companies will have delivered the hundreds of millions of doses they have promised,” Fauci told Forbes in August.

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Experts say that recent increases in coronavirus cases are not just the result of the United States doing more testing, as a higher percentage of those tested are positive compared to previous stages of the pandemic.

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Promising vaccines against coronavirus from the UK, USA, China

Here’s a quick look at some of the front-runners in the race to find a vaccine against COVID-19, including where the vaccines are being developed, where they are testing them and when researchers believe they may be ready for widespread distribution, if known.

Oxford University / AstraZeneca (UK): Currently testing its vaccine on 100,000 human volunteers in at least three countries. Leading researcher Dr. Sarah Gilbert has said that they are aiming for a release in the autumn of 2020.

Modern (US): An apparent mix of state regulators delayed large-scale human testing, but Modernes’ CEO has told Barrons that he still expects the company to know by Thanksgiving if the vaccine is safe and effective and should be able to distribute it in early 2021 if it does.

Pfizer (USA): Although its four COVID-19 vaccine candidates are still in early-stage human studies, two of them have been rapidly detected by the FDA. Pfizer’s chief business officer told the US Congress that the company may be ready to apply for FDA approval in October.

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SinoVac (China): Currently testing its vaccine against about 10,000 human volunteers in China and about 9,000 in Brazil and will begin testing on about 1,900 test subjects in Indonesia soon. The CEO of BioPharma, SinoVac’s Indonesian partner, has said he expects the vaccine to be ready in early 2021.

SinoPharm (China): Currently testing about 15,000 volunteers in the Middle East in a trial that the state-owned company expects to last for three to six months. SinoPharm recently built a second plant to manufacture the vaccine and doubled its capacity to approximately 200 million doses per year.

CanSino Biologics (China): To begin major human trials this summer, CanSino’s vaccine has already been approved by the Chinese military.

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Wearing a face mask is the safest way to prevent coronavirus transmission.

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Will there just be one vaccine for everyone?

We probably won’t know until next year, but Fauci has suggested that it may take several different vaccines manufactured and distributed by different laboratories to end the pandemic, in an article published May 11 in the journal Science.

What happens if we never find a coronavirus vaccine?

Coronavirus is a large class of virus and so far there are no vaccines for any of them. Although there are promising early results, there is no guarantee of a vaccine until 2021. Statistically, only about 6% of vaccine candidates have ever reached the market, according to a Reuters special report.

Early evidence suggests that the coronavirus does not appear to mutate as rapidly or frequently as the flu, and it is believed that the virus has not yet mutated sufficiently to interfere with vaccine development – although our knowledge may change.


Most experts expect a vaccine against the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, by 2021.

James Martin / CNET

The further we go without a vaccine, the more likely the focus will change towards treatments, for example experimental antiviral drug remdesivir, which reportedly showed promising results, and dexamethasone, a steroid that doctors say increases the survival rate among the most serious cases. With effective therapeutic treatments, many viruses that used to be lethal are no longer death sentences. Patients with HIV, for example, can now expect to have the same life expectancy as non-HIV-positive individuals thanks to tremendous advances in treatment.

Eventually, the global population can reach the 60% to 70% required for herd immunity to protect those who are not immune, which is ultimately the goal of a vaccine.

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