May 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump claims U.S. will have coronavirus vaccine by end of 2020

President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News virtual town hall at the Lincoln Memorial. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump asserted during a Fox News town hall Sunday night that he's "very confident" the U.S. will produce a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year.

Why it matters: Trump's timeline is much more optimistic than what most public health officials have predicted. Experts estimate a vaccine could take at least 12–18 months to become widely available.

  • Vaccines typically take multiple years to develop. There is still no vaccine for HIV, and the Ebola vaccine was not approved until 2019.

What he's saying: "We think we'll have a vaccine by the end of this year and we're pushing very hard. We're building supply lines ... we have many companies who are I think close," Trump said.

  • "Now, the doctors will say, ‘Well you shouldn’t say that.’ I’ll say what I think. ... I think we’re going to have a vaccine much sooner rather than later.”
  • Trump called the work Gilead Sciences is doing on remdesivir as an example of a potential "game-changer."
  • As Axios' Bob Herman has reported, remdesivir could provide some help and lay the groundwork for more research, but the drug on its own does not appear to be any kind of "cure" for the novel coronavirus.

Between the lines: "Oxford University scientist John Bell, who is leading one of the efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine, said on NBC's 'Meet the Press' Sunday that his research group will likely get evidence on whether the vaccine has efficacy by early June." [Axios]

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Pandemic re-emphasizes need for universal flu vaccine

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The quest for a universal flu vaccine in the U.S. is making "promising" progress, with the possibility of having one ready in five years.

Why it matters: Just because we're battling a coronavirus pandemic right now, doesn't mean a deadly influenza pandemic isn't waiting around the corner. Experts are aiming to create a vaccine that could target a broader array of flu strains in order to prepare for future pandemics.

The long journey to herd immunity

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The sought-after state of herd immunity — in which widespread outbreaks are prevented because enough people in a community are immune to a disease — is complicated by open questions about the effectiveness of a future vaccine and how COVID-19 spreads.

Why it matters: Unless a sufficient level of immunity is achieved in the population, the coronavirus could circulate indefinitely and potentially flare up as future outbreaks.

Wall Street forecasts blockbuster sales for Gilead's coronavirus drug remdesivir

Photo: Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images

Gilead's intravenous coronavirus drug remdesivir could fetch $6.7 billion in revenue in 2021 with a 19% profit margin, assuming the company prices each treatment at $5,000, according to new forecasts from Geoffrey Porges, a highly read pharmaceutical analyst at Wall Street firm SVB Leerink.

Why it matters: That kind of price tag would make remdesivir a blockbuster, but it's far from being a blockbuster treatment.