The race to a COVID-19 vaccine: opportunities and challenges in development and distribution

Article Details

Authors
Rodrigo M Burgos, Melissa E Badowski, Emily Drwiega, Samaneh Ghassemi, Nikki Griffith, Fischer Herald, Mikayla Johnson, Renata O Smith, Sarah M Michienzi

Article Type
Commentary

DOI
10.7573/dic.2020-12-2

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Abstract

The unprecedented toll of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the virus responsible for coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19), jumpstarted the race towards the development and distribution of effective treatment and prevention options. With an urgent need to slow viral transmission, lessen disease severity, and reduce mortality, biopharmaceutical companies rapidly began investigating potential COVID-19 vaccinations. While typical vaccine development can take upwards of 10–15 years, COVID-19 vaccines were developed in less than a year after the identification of COVID-19. To accomplish this feat, clinical development, manufacturing scale-up and distribution are occurring in parallel for the four COVID-19 vaccine front-runners. This remarkable opportunity will forever change the drug development process and would not be possible without tremendous dedication from the public and private sectors, researchers, and clinical trial volunteers. However, many challenges still lie ahead. Comprehensive plans for equitable vaccine education, distribution, administration and post-marketing surveillance must be implemented successfully to overcome vaccine hesitancy, supply-chain obstacles and healthcare provider shortages in an already overburdened healthcare system. We are moving forward at a remarkable pace but worldwide immunity through vaccination will take time to achieve. Thus, current prevention efforts of masking, hand hygiene and social distancing must remain in effect for the foreseeable future. We must remain diligent and not fatigue in our efforts. Ending the COVID-19 pandemic cannot rest on the promise of vaccination alone – it will require a continued, robust and multi-faceted approach to disease treatment and prevention.

Keywords: coronavirus, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, vaccine.

Citation: Burgos RM, Badowski ME, Drwiega E, Ghassemi S, Griffith N, Herald F, Johnson M, Smith RO, Michienzi SM. The race to a COVID-19 vaccine: opportunities and challenges in development and distribution. Drugs in Context 2021; 10: 2020-12-2. DOI: 10.7573/dic.2020-12-2

Contributions: All authors contributed equally to the preparation of this review. All named authors meet the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) criteria for authorship for this article, take responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole, and have given their approval for this version to be published.

Disclosure and potential conflicts of interest: MEB and SG have nothing to disclose. RMB, SMM and ROS have received grant funding from Merck and salary support from Moderna and Janssen. ED, NG, FH and MJ have received salary support from Moderna. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Potential Conflicts of Interests form for the authors is available for download at: https://www.drugsincontext.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/dic.2020-12-2-COI.pdf

Acknowledgements: None.

Funding declaration: No funding or medical writing assistance was provided for this manuscript.

Copyright: Copyright © 2021 Burgos RM, Badowski ME, Drwiega E, Ghassemi S, Griffith N, Herald F, Johnson M, Smith RO, Michienzi SM. Published by Drugs in Context under Creative Commons License Deed CC BY NC ND 4.0 which allows anyone to copy, distribute, and transmit the article provided it is properly attributed in the manner specified below. No commercial use without permission.

Correct attribution: Copyright © 2021 Burgos RM, Badowski ME, Drwiega E, Ghassemi S, Griffith N, Herald F, Johnson M, Smith RO, Michienzi SM. https://doi.org/10.7573/dic.2020-12-2. Published by Drugs in Context under Creative Commons License Deed CC BY NC ND 4.0.

Article URL: https://www.drugsincontext.com/the-race-to-a-covid-19-vaccine:-opportunities-and-challenges-in-development-and-distribution

Correspondence: Sarah M Michienzi, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Pharmacy, 833 S. Wood Street, Room 164, M/C 886, Chicago, IL, USA. msarah@uic.edu

Provenance: Invited; externally peer reviewed.

Submitted: 8 December 2020; Accepted: 23 January 2021; Publication date: 16 February 2021.

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