COVID-19 vaccines under development

BROWNSVILLE — Pharmaceutical companies throughout the world have been working non-stop since the pandemic began to combat the COVID-19 virus.

When COVID- 19 first struck, doctors didn’t even know how to treat it. Now, the pharmaceutical industry is presenting not only therapeutics for testing but also vaccines.

“There are over 200 companies making the vaccine, but we have only nine companies in clinical trials right now,” said Kathy Lenhard, CEO of PanAmerican Clinical Research.

She was in the Valley recently at her new Brownsville office talking about trials for now therapeutics, but she was also in the know about vaccines under development.

“We’re going to be seeing a lot of other clinical trials coming,” Lenhard said. “It’s all from big people like AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Novavax.”

Pfizer said this past week that its COVID-19 vaccine may be a remarkable 90% effective, based on early test results.

Pfizer now is on track to apply later this month for emergency-use approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, once it has the necessary safety information in hand.

Lenhard used to be clinical operations director at Novavax, which she says received more than $1 billion from the federal government to develop a vaccine.

“There’s a lot of government support,” she said. “Novavax is out there. And there’s Johnson & Johnson who owns Janssen, and Janssen is doing the vaccine.”

Several European companies also have vaccines under development. More than 200 companies have registered with the World Health Organization to develop vaccines.

“We’re going to have a lot of research and that’s why I opened up a research center in the Rio Grande Valley because I have the same population on the other side of the border.”

Lenhard speculated that either Moderna or Pfizer might have a vaccine before the end of the year but it will be for emergencies only.

“I would suspect that we will have a vaccine for more essential workers around April,” she said. “Then maybe in the fall a year from now we’ll have more, lots of vaccine.”

The current plan is for the U.S. Army to handle distribution.

“That’s the best plan but there is nothing written in stone,” she said.