The story behind the blistering speed of COVID vaccine development

Jason McLellan in his lab at the University of Texas at Austin in February 2020. Many of the COVID vaccines that have been developed used Dr. McLellan’s research. (College of Natural Sciences, University of Texas at Austin)

(Ainsley Hawthorn/ CBC News) –– Past pandemics can bring our experiences with COVID-19 into focus, whether by reassuring us that we’re far from the first people to face a serious outbreak or by showing us how similarly our ancestors reacted to the threat of illness.

It’s also impossible to understand the efficiency of our medical response to COVID, especially the speed of vaccine development, without looking to the past.

Before COVID, the fastest a vaccine had ever been developed was four years. Researcher Maurice Hilleman swabbed his sick daughter’s throat in 1963 and had a mumps vaccine in hand by 1967. By comparison, a recently approved vaccine for Ebola took over 20 years to refine. (…)

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