Duval County

Researchers work around the clock developing COVID-19 vaccine at Mayo Clinic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — While the numbers of COVID 19 cases continue to rise in the U.S., researchers are working around the clock to develop a vaccine.

Mayo Clinic says they’re very involved in the process, although a vaccine is still quite a ways away.

Dr. Stacey Rizza, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Mayo Clinic, says developing a vaccine that prevents people from getting any virus is no easy task. It takes time, money, and research.

Rizza explains, “First, we have to have a much better understanding of the virology and the immunology, or the human’s response to the virus.”

She says researchers around the globe are working as quickly as possible to create one for COVID -19, but unfortunately, a cure is not going to happen overnight.

“We cannot depend on having an effective, safe vaccine for quite a while,” Rizza said.

Researchers have to first make sure the vaccine actually has an immune response and that’s when they test it to make sure it’s safe for people.

“Next, you test to make sure it actually works and prevents infection. That process takes many months to years, and we’re only in what I would call the first few steps of the process.”

But the good news, according to Rizza, is that researchers aren’t starting from the ground up to develop this vaccine.They’re pulling data from other coronaviruses, like the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus that appeared in 2002.

“This virus is very similar in its structure to the SARS virus that affected humans a number of years ago. So, we did have some science from that virus and did have some early vaccine candidates,” Rizza said.

While researchers race to find a cure, continue washing your hands and following social distancing guidelines to slow the spread of the virus.