Coronavirus vaccine: Pfizer, Moderna and how many vaccine doses are coming in 2020
Two vaccine candidates that claim to be about 95% effective against coronavirus will likely receive FDA authorization in the US this month, with several others not far behind. Here's what that really means.
Dale SmithFormer Associate Writer
Dale Smith is a former Associate Writer on the How-To team at CNET.
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Pfizer, if authorized, expects to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and 1.3 billion in 2021. Moderna plans to ship 20 million doses in 2020 and another 500 million to 1 billion in 2021, if authorized. With over 330 million people in the US alone, not everyone will be able to get a vaccine at once -- the first doses to reach the market will likely go to employees and residents of nursing homes as well as front-line health care personnel, followed by essential workers, people with underlying medical conditions and older adults.
Here, we walk you through the leading coronavirus vaccine news and explain where the most promising candidates stand. This article is updated frequently and is intended to be a general overview, not a source of medical advice. If you're seeking more information about coronavirus testing, here's how to find a testing site near you.
Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts a "surge upon a surge" of COVID-19 infections in coming weeks, with the nation's top infectious disease expert pinning much of the blame on people gathering for the holidays.
Getting one or more vaccines through clinical trials to FDA approval is just the first leg of the journey. The next is convincing people to take it. Sixty-three percent of US adults expressed safety concerns over a coronavirus vaccine, according to a Harris Poll from Oct. 19, with 40% of respondents specifically worrying that development has been too fast. Some people are reportedly concerned about possible side effects.
Life in the US will begin to return to normal once we reach what scientists call "herd immunity," which, with regard to the coronavirus, means at least 60% to 70% of the population is immune. So long as enough people take the vaccine to reach that level, it won't matter if a few people object or decline to take the vaccine for other reasons, for example, if they aren't healthy enough to be vaccinated.
What to do until a coronavirus vaccine is approved?
Whether or not COVID-19 vaccines are effective at stopping the spread of coronavirus will depend a lot on how our bodies build immunity to the disease. Here's what we know so far about whether or not you can get COVID-19 more than once. Testing is also key to slowing coronavirus' spread -- learn about a device that can produce results in under 90 minutes here. Finally, read about how all of these issues and more weigh in on US President-elect Joseph Biden's plan to fight COVID-19.
Other promising coronavirus vaccines around the world
Here's a quick look at some of the frontrunners besides Pfizer and Moderna in the race to find a vaccine for COVID-19, including where the vaccines are being developed, where they are on testing them and when scientists think they might be ready for widespread distribution, if known.
COVID-19 vaccine development has been lightning-fast
Several acceleration efforts are currently underway, like the White House's Operation Warp Speed, which is meant to cut through regulatory red tape to speed up vaccine development and be ready to distribute vaccines as soon as they receive FDA authorization. So far, the US government has pledged over $10 billion to several vaccine manufacturers to secure a total of 800 million vaccine doses.
Vaccines typically take about 10 to 15 years to develop and approve, through four phases that include human trials. But with Operation Warp Speed, approved vaccine projects can submit data to the FDA bit by bit, rather than submitting all the data from a four-phase trial all at once.
Meanwhile, the program is also financially backing efforts to start manufacturing doses while clinical trials are still ongoing. That means if and when those vaccines do get authorized, there will already be a store of doses ready to distribute nationally.