The general consensus on the timeframe for the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine remains divided. Scientists researching all they can about the nature of the 2019 novel coronavirus warn of the possibility of new mutations down the line. However, those closely working on clinical trials claim several candidates suggest one would be available sooner than expected. It seems the latest developments might have shifted the overall perspective. Now, most are in agreement that a vaccine could be ready by January 2021.

While the Trump administration was previously criticised for its highly optimistic estimates, many have recently changed their opinions considering the results of studies published by medical experts. A major concern presented by a rushed process is that it contradicts the standards imposed by the scientific community. Last week, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci stated: "We want to go quickly, but we want to make sure it's safe and it's effective."

As the death toll from COVID-19 continues to mount across the globe, healthcare officials have acknowledged the government's willingness to compromise certain regulations. In the early stages of the pandemic in the United States, it was projected that a viable vaccine will probably take 12 to 18 months in a favourable scenario, reports ABC News. Not long after his statement, others noted that the vaccine for mumps took four years. Thus, people were sceptical that the timeline given was not possible.

Even though there have been medications that evidently show promise in the treatment and prevention of the disease, researchers still need more time to assess all conceivable side effects. This makes it difficult for biotech firms to submit their drugs to regulators for approval.

Just recently, a study on the purported benefits of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine was concluded. Despite the claims of several doctors who successfully treated patients with the medications, as well as an endorsement from U.S. President Donald Trump himself, there were clearly some dangerous side effects observed.

coronavirus vaccine clinical trials
Clinical trials on vaccines against the new coronavirus COVID-19 were approved in Germany and launched in Britain Photo: AFP / Thibault Savary

With over 100 vaccines currently in development and testing, only a few will eventually make it to human trials. Nevertheless, if there are no major problems, a COVID-19 vaccine should be ready in 2021 or even earlier.