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Promise and prevention: Experts discuss the race for a COVID-19 vaccine

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As the global race for a COVID-19 vaccine heats up, Reuters invited a group of healthcare experts to answer questions as part of our #AskReuters Twitter chat series.

Digital special projects editor Lauren Young asked participants which vaccine candidates show the most promise, and what to expect in terms of prevention, safety and vaccine roll out.

Below are the edited answers.

“The early trial results of several vaccines, that is the results of Phase 1 and/or Phase 2 trials, have been very promising. We should definitely ‘believe’ these results, while acknowledging that they do not prove the vaccine is effective.

These early phase trials address safety and whether the vaccine elicits a good immune response. The good news is that we have several vaccines that have or are moving forward into Phase 3 trials, the phase needed to prove it ‘works’ for licensing.”

— Aubree Gordon, associate professor of epidemiology at University of Michigan School of Public Health

“Hard to draw any firm conclusions from Phase 1 and 2 data and press releases. AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine has animal data. I’m confident we’ll get a COVID-19 vaccine, just not sure which candidate(s) will make it into people’s arms.”

— Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security

“We can have faith in several potential vaccines because they’re built off other successful efforts. Oxford/AstraZeneca, some (National Institute of Health) and one in China are all promising. But here’s what makes me most worried: global competition instead of collaboration is harming. In this pandemic, we need to quickly realize there are better ways of doing this.”

— Matthew Kavanagh, assistant professor of global health and visiting professor of Law at Georgetown University; director of global health policy & politics initiative at O’Neill Institute

“The “mad rush” to be first to market should NOT compromise the science in any way. We have very stringent scientific principles for scientific studies and these should not be compromised … Ethics is of the utmost importance in any scientific study.”

— Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, emerging leader in biosecurity fellow at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security

“We have vaccine candidates coming to Phase 3 trials within seven months of knowing the genetic sequence of the virus. This is what can happen when public, academic & private entities come together with a single focus. When united, we can accomplish so much more!”

— Infectious Diseases Society of America

“Things will be confusing come the fall with both COVID-19 and the flu active at the same time. Since we have an effective vaccine for the flu, at least we can get protection against one of them.

— Raed Dweik, chairman of the Respiratory Institute at Cleveland Clinic

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