OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - As early as Friday, Johnson & Johnson could get authorization from the Federal Drug Administration to start distributing its single-dose COVID vaccine.
If so, the company's vaccine would join the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines already on the market. And many other vaccine candidates are working their way through research and testing to protect a world population rapidly approaching 8 billion people. Thanks to both serious competition and unprecedented scientific cooperation, the world will soon have an explosion of COVID vaccines.
As vaccine pioneer, Dr. Margaret Liu said, COVID recognizes no borders. "
"Every disease now is just a plane ride away," said Liu. Added infectious disease expert and vaccinologist, Dr. John Swartzberg, "We're talking about wanting to vaccinate two-thirds of the world's population."
He also said the world will need everything the army of vaccine creators produce because it's not yet certain how frequently if at all needed, people will have to be revaccinated.
"We're not gonna handle this pandemic just by getting America vaccinated. We gonna handle this pandemic by getting the world vaccinated," said Swartzberg.
According to the World Health Organization and New York Times researchers, as of last Thursday, at least seven different COVID vaccines have been rolled out in various countries. But, there are more than 200 more vaccine candidates in development. Of those, 71 are in the three phases of clinical trials and 20 are in final testing. Another 78 pre-clinical vaccines are under active investigation in animals.
"This is definitely unprecedented. It's very impressive, not just the number of vaccines that are under development, but the way the even companies that normally would be competitors are coming together and working together," said Liu. "This is gonna go down as the remarkable accomplishments of our species," added Swartzberg.
If viruses mutate, scientists can tweak the vaccines and mass produce them by manufacturing vaccines that show real promise as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines did.
"Those can be designed and even started to be made really very, very quickly. And that, of course, has saved many, many lives because the vaccine are available sooner," said Liu.
That doesn't mean throw away face masks or stop social distancing because it's unclear if vaccinated people can still spread the virus.
"I'm fully vaccinated now. If I get exposed to the virus, can it multiply in my nose and throat and airways? And I won't know it because I won't get sick, but could I spread it to somebody else," said Swartzberg. So, masks and distance remain critical.