From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have looked to the promise of a vaccine to prevent infection by the novel coronavirus. Vaccines typically take years to develop before they ultimately reach the market, but given the pandemic's urgency, progress is being made much more rapidly. In this Fool Live video, Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina and longtime Motley Fool contributor Keith Speights discuss where things stand in the coronavirus vaccine race right now.
Corrine Cardina: So Keith, the world has of course been following the coronavirus vaccine race very closely. We're calling it a race but this is a race where multiple participants can really be awarded trophies. Where do things stand right now in regards to a COVID-19 vaccine?
Keith Speights: Well, we have 10 vaccine candidates that are in phase three testing right now. Now, we say 10, Corinne, but we do have to qualify that a little bit because half of those are vaccine candidates that are being developed by Chinese drugmakers or Russian drugmakers, and they're really not going to be a factor in the U.S. market. So out of those 10, we can push half of them to the side. That leaves another five, and several of them have already started filing what's called "rolling submissions" in other countries, in Europe and in Canada. I think the most recent is Moderna's (NASDAQ:MRNA). It began a rolling submission to Health Canada. Now, the FDA sometimes allows that but they're not doing that in this case, at least not at this point. In the U.S., we have a different approach where the FDA can grant an emergency use authorization to a vaccine. Of course, I think our viewers are probably aware the FDA has already granted emergency use authorization to quite a few COVID-19 diagnostic tests, as well as to a few treatments along the way. The most notable one there is Gilead Sciences' (NASDAQ:GILD) remdesivir but so far, none of the vaccine candidates have applied yet for emergency use authorization. But that's a big story to watch coming up.
Corrine Cardina: Absolutely and, of course, that emergency use authorization only lasts for as long as the emergency lasts. Will they be pursuing full FDA approvals after EUAs are given out?
Keith Speights: Absolutely. That's the drugmakers' plan. They want to take advantage of any route they possibly can to get to market as quickly as possible. In the U.S., the quickest route is to file for emergency use authorization. But at the same time, they're going to be working on the filings for full FDA approval. That process is going to take longer. But any of these vaccine makers are going to want to have their vaccines receive full approval so that when the pandemic is over, and sooner or later it will be over. When that happens, they want their vaccines to still be able to be marketed.
Corrine Cardina: Great point.