The number of global coronavirus cases currently exceeds 3.3 million, while deaths number well over 200,000. Measures to contain the pandemic have meanwhile knocked out 30 million American jobs. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the U.S. economy to shrink by 6% in 2020.
Despite the grim statistics, there is some optimistic news, though. Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), the maker of one of the most promising coronavirus vaccines so far, has inked a strategic collaboration agreement with Swiss biotech firm Lonza Group (SIX:LONN) to manufacture up to a billion doses of the vaccine annually.
Earlier this week, Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidate, codenamed mRNA-1273, applied to proceed to phase II and late-stage studies.
With the U.S. population totaling nearly 330 million, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech firm could produce more than enough for domestic use.
The coronavirus pandemic is both a health crisis and a catastrophic economic headwind.
The border closures and strict shelter-in-place measures crushed the travel and hospitality sectors. Oil consumption, always a good indicator of economic activity, has plummeted, sending its price crashing. Bankruptcies are rising and businesses that were previously thriving are struggling.
A coronavirus vaccine will make it possible to relax the lockdown measures. Economies could thus reopen safely and sooner without worrying about a resurgence in coronavirus cases and deaths.
A vaccine is also necessary since achieving herd immunity is no longer an attractive prospect. As the U.K. and Sweden have found out, striving for herd immunity comes with severe risks and costs to the population.
Additionally, there are indications that the novel coronavirus is not going away anytime soon. Experts now predict that coronavirus infections will continue for at least another one and a half years.
According to a report from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), a second big wave could hit the U.S. in the fall and winter. The coronavirus pandemic will only recede when about two-thirds of the population has been infected.
CIDRAP director Mike Osterholm said:
This thing’s not going to stop until it infects 60 to 70 percent of people. The idea that this is going to be done soon defies microbiology.
While we urgently need a coronavirus vaccine, there is reason to be cautious. Moderna’s mRNA-1273 is still undergoing trials and is months away from being clinically approved.
But there are also numerous other coronavirus vaccine candidates from around the world. Moderna’s mRNA-1273 isn’t the only one. Success for any of them would be a win for humanity. It will mark the beginning of an economic recovery.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com. The above should not be considered medical advice from CCN.com.
Last modified: June 24, 2020 1:03 AM UTC