The first vaccine that proves to safely protect people against Covid-19 disease will be a breakthrough moment but is unlikely to be the sole answer to curbing the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, health experts say it’s increasingly likely that several vaccines could pass muster in clinical trials and become available in phases over a period of weeks and months.
A multiplicity of experimental vaccines provides bench strength in the event of more potential delays like the one AstraZeneca PLC encountered earlier this week, after a volunteer in a U.K. vaccine trial developed an unexplained illness, leading the company to pause studies to review safety data.
Multiple vaccines would have implications for supply and distribution plans. If testing is successful, it’s possible that rollouts of vaccine doses could start as soon as this coming fall and stretch into 2021 and beyond.
“I think the general public maybe has the wrong impression that there will be a winner and only one winner and everybody else will be a loser,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview. “That’s not the case at all. I think it’s quite conceivable, if not likely, that you’re going to have multiple candidates that’ll get over the finish line that will actually be good enough to be approved for production and use.”