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Developing a SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine at Warp Speed

Educational Objective
To understand the logic and efforts behind the government’s Warp Speed vaccine program
1 Credit CME

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has unleashed major and substantial changes in the provision of health care, including public health policy and the practice of medicine, and in the ways most individuals live their lives.1 Significant changes also have occurred in vaccine development, with shortening the usual 15- to 20-year timeline to one that might be as short as 1 to 1.5 years.2 COVID-19, the acute illness due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was first reported in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, in December 2019, and rapidly progressed to a global pandemic. By June 27, 2020, a total of 9.76 million people had been infected with this virus and 492 000 had died. Although widespread quarantine, isolation, and social distancing measures have, to some extent, countered the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and “flattened the curve,” countries now face a multitude of challenges to the “re-opening” of society. Yet, it is clear the only way to provide effective herd immunity is with a safe and effective vaccine.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Paul A. Offit, MD, Division of Infectious Diseases, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 34th St & Civic Center Blvd, Abramson Research Building, Room 1202D, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4399 (offit@email.chop.edu).

Published Online: July 6, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12190

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

References
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2.
Graham  BS .  Rapid COVID-19 vaccine development.   Science. 2020;368(6494):945-946. doi:10.1126/science.abb8923PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
3.
Fact sheet: explaining Operation Warp Speed. US Department of Health & Human Services. Published June 16, 2020. Accessed June 19, 2020. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/06/16/fact-sheet-explaining-operation-warp-speed.html
4.
Weiland  N , Sanger  DE . Trump administration selects five coronavirus vaccine candidates as finalists. New York Times. Updated June 15, 2020. Accessed June 19, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/03/us/politics/coronavirus-vaccine-trump-moderna.html
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Pardi  N , Hogan  MJ , Porter  FW , Weissman  D .  mRNA vaccines: a new era in vaccinology.   Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2018;17(4):261-279. doi:10.1038/nrd.2017.243PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Dose-confirmation study to evaluate the safety, reactogenicity, and immunogenicity of mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccine in adults aged 18 years and older. ClinicalTrials.gov website. Updated June 18, 2020. Accessed June 19, 2020. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04405076
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Study to describe the safety, tolerability, immunogenicity, and potential efficacy of RNA vaccine candidates against COVID-19 in healthy adults. ClinicalTrials.gov website. Updated June 5, 2020. Accessed June 19, 2020. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04368728
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Cohen  J . Merck, one of Big Pharma’s biggest players, reveals its COVID-19 vaccine and therapy plans. Science. Published May 26, 2020. Accessed June 19, 2020. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/merck-one-big-pharma-s-biggest-players-reveals-its-covid-19-vaccine-and-therapy-plans
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Johnson & Johnson announces acceleration of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate; phase 1/2a clinical trial to begin in second half of July. Johnson & Johnson website. Published June 10, 2020. Accessed June 19, 2020. https://www.jnj.com/johnson-johnson-announces-acceleration-of-its-covid-19-vaccine-candidate-phase-1-2a-clinical-trial-to-begin-in-second-half-of-july
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