Ask a Reporter: What You Should Know About the Coronavirus Vaccine
A quick interview with the Blog’s resident vaccine journalist, Emily Mullin
There’s been a lot of recent vaccine news. After all, there are over 100 experimental vaccines in development for Covid-19. Emily Mullin is a staff writer at OneZero, where she covers biotech, and also makes time to report on the latest vaccine news for Medium’s Coronavirus Blog. After Oxford University published its latest data on its candidate vaccine this week, I chatted with Emily over Slack about covering the coronavirus vaccine race. Here’s our conversation:
Alexandra Sifferlin, blog editor: So Emily, new data on the Oxford trial was released yesterday, which we’ve been waiting for. Mainly because coverage so far seems to indicate it’s one of the furthest along. What’s your baseline impression of the data — is it really promising? Can I feel happy about this? 🙏
Emily Mullin, biotech reporter: I would say — no, not yet. So far, it doesn’t look significantly better than the data we’ve seen from other front-runners, like Moderna and Pfizer. But it’s also not any worse. We have to keep in mind that these are small, early-stage trials, and so far we’ve only seen a glimpse of data from a handful of these trials. We don’t have the full picture yet.
Well, darn! That makes sense though. With so many different vaccines in development, how do you decide which ones to pay close attention to?
Right, as you allude to, there are more than 100 in development now, probably closer to 200 at the moment. The World Health Organization is tracking all of them, and so is the Milken Institute, an independent economic think tank based in California. The ones you should pay attention to are the ones in clinical trials — in other words, human testing. Right now, according to the WHO, there are 24 experimental vaccines in clinical evaluation.
Are there certain vaccines among the 24 that you’re paying especially close attention to? For instance, the Oxford vaccine and Moderna vaccine seem to get a lot of coverage. Is there a particular reason for that?
The Moderna vaccine was the first Covid-19 vaccine here in the United States to begin testing in people…