The COVID-19 pandemic is getting worse, both in the U.S. and worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of March 15, there are more than 153,000 confirmed cases of the rapidly spreading disease in the world and more than 5,700 deaths. Many states in the U.S. are now taking drastic measures to mitigate the spread of the disease, such as closing public schools and banning large gatherings. 

Fortunately, several biotech companies are racing to develop a vaccine or a treatment for the novel coronavirus. According to an unnamed government official, clinical trials for a potential vaccine for COVID-19 will start on March 16. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding the trial, and the vaccine in question was developed by Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) in collaboration with the NIH. The trial will involve 45 volunteers, each of which will receive shots with different doses of the vaccine. The goal of this trial is to ensure that the vaccine doesn't cause significant adverse side effects.

Nurse holding test tube with blood for Coronavirus testing.

Image source: Getty Images.

Still a long road ahead

The fact that a trial for a potential vaccine for COVID-19 is about to start is unquestionably a step in the right direction. However, it is essential to temper our expectations. Even if this trial and potential subsequent trials don't encounter any hiccups, we're still at least a year away from having this vaccine available to the public. Of course, there's always the possibility that the vaccine fails to demonstrate its efficacy in preventing COVID-19 in later trials, assuming it makes it to that stage.