(NY DAILY NEWS) – The World Health Organization on Thursday added three more vaccines to its list of potential coronavirus treatments and cures, bringing the total number in the human testing phase to six with another 77 more in preclinical evaluations.
The figures mark an increase from April 13, when WHO said there were 70 vaccines in development, with three candidates in human trials. The rate of progress is unprecedented and the drug industry has said it is hoping to cut the time it takes vaccines to get to market — at least 10 years under normal circumstances — down to just one.
Since the global outbreak first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, medical experts and drug makers have been racing to develop a treatment for COVID-19, the potentially deadly illness caused by the novel virus. Worldwide, more than 2.6 million people have been infected, with at least 842,000 diagnosed cases and 46,785 deaths in the United States alone.
Half of the vaccines in the human testing phase are being developed in Chinese research facilities, including Hong Kong-based CanSino Biologics Inc. and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. Another two vaccines — developed by Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. and Inovio Pharmaceutical Inc. in Pennsylvania — are being tested on humans in America, according to a WHO document.
While research is progressing rapidly, officials emphasized its likely be at least 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is ready for official use.
Researchers worldwide are also examining whether treatments for other, past sicknesses can be repurposed in the battle against the fast-spreading coronavirus. That includes anti-malaria medication hydroxychloroquine and blood plasma therapy as well as the antiparasitic drug, ivermectin, which is used to treat head lice and scabies.