It’s really unbelievable that we will have a vaccine against a new virus so soon, right?
Yes! It’s an incredible scientific achievement! But realize—research on the technology behind the new COVID-19 vaccine has been underway for at least the past 10+ years. We’ve had prototypes for influenza, rabies and other types of viruses. This pandemic pushed scientists across the world to be really motivated and focused on a single virus and utilized the knowledge they already with significant resources. In the US, we had Operation Warp Speed, a federal partnership between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Department of Defense (DOD), and private companies to develop, manufacture, and distribute 300 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. It was incredibly fortunate that they picked the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 to focus on, as it turned out this was the right protein to target!
These vaccines have been tested in clinical trials enrolling tens of thousands of people, just like other vaccines. The timeline was accelerated, but steps were not skipped. You can see the FDA briefing materials that provide a comprehensive overview of the safety and efficacy data.