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Global Race Against the Clock: Covid-19 Vaccine Development & Mutational Variants Updated: 2020-08-10 15:23:48 KST

Medical researchers and health workers around the world are still at the race to find a vaccine for the pandemic that countries are still struggling to survive against.
Covid-19 vaccine, how long before a commercial rollout and what needs to be done to ensure all populations are covered?

It's the topic of our News In Depth with Dr. Alice Tan, Internist at MizMedi Women's Hospital and later on our show, Dr. Amesh Adalja from Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security via Skype.

First, Arirang's favorite medical expert, Dr. Alice Tan, welcome back to my show. Great to see you.

Before we delve into the issue, could you briefly explain to us about the KCDC announcement this afternoon on mutation cases that have been identified among imported cases? The emergence of mutations and variants would impact vaccine development, would it not?

It seems like we're going to have to accept that they may never be a "silver bullet" for this COVID-19 virus.
Last week, White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci defined "highly effective vaccine" as one that provides 98-percent or more guaranteed protection - scientists are hoping for a vaccine that is at least 75-percent effective, but the FDA has said it would authorize a coronavirus vaccine as long as it is safe and at least 50-percent effective.
Can you help us understand the different extents of effectiveness when it comes to a virus vaccine - 98-percent and "at least 50-percent" seems to be very far off?

U.S. pharmaceutical giant Gilead started supplying REMDESIVIR to treat COVID-19 patients here in South Korea earlier last month.
The KCDC has now reported that 4 out of 106 have shown abnormal responses to the medication.
Are we better off with REMDESIVIR than holding our breaths for the development and authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine?

Along with the progress of the development of a vaccine for coronavirus, is the discussion of the cost of the vaccine.
Biotech companies have quoted a roughly 40 to 50 dollar range saying it is a "cheaper pandemic pricing" for the vaccine.
Is there such a thing as "reasonable pricing" for a vaccine against such a pandemic?

Let's now go over to Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security for their perspective.
We have joining us live Dr. Amesh Adalja. Thanks for joining us, Dr. Adalja.

Different drug companies and institutes are all aiming to reach the same goal - finding a cure for COVID-19.
We've heard of vaccine developers prompting the body to make antibodies to neutralize the coronavirus, but there also seems to be an approach using protein-based technology.
From what has been studied about this virus yet, how does this coronavirus need to be attacked?

Pfizer and Moderna have launched their Phase 3 trials two weeks ago.
Usually for running trials, patient recruitment is one of the biggest challenges, but this time patients have been eager to sign up with some test sites paying volunteers as much as 2-thousand dollars for completing the two-year study.
With health experts saying that this virus is not going away, how do you see the success rate of the trials and the timeline for an approved vaccine?

Moderna said they're expecting results as early as October, and if trials are successful, there may be a federally approved vaccine by early next year for distribution.
President Trump has said it's possible the U.S. could have a safe and effective vaccine for the coronavirus before the upcoming presidential elections on Nomveber 3rd.
From a medical standpoint, what is realistically expected by the beginning of November?

It seems health experts still agree that we need to get to herd immunity and a vaccine to get over this pandemic.
With what is known thus far about this virus, do you see COVID-19 becoming a common cold in a few years' time?

Dr. Amesh Adalja, Senior Scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, thanks for speaking with us this evening. We appreciate it.

The number of new cases here in South Korea has been fluctuating in recent weeks.
It seems we're doing better through the summer vacation period than we did with the long weekend back in the beginning of May.
If that's because summer vacations have been staggered, with August 17th being designated a temporary national holiday, do you see this upcoming weekend to be high risk?

Dr. Alice Tan, thank you as always your insights this evening and always. We always appreciate your dose of medical expertise. Thank you.

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