Questions & Answers

Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19 disease?

There is no specific vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19 disease.

Healthcare providers are mostly using a symptomatic approach, meaning they treat the symptoms rather than target the virus, and provide supportive care (e.g. oxygen therapy, fluid management) for infected persons, which can be highly effective.

In severe and critically ill patients, a number of drugs are being tried to target the virus, but the use of these need to be more carefully assessed in randomised controlled trials. Several clinical trials are ongoing to assess their effectiveness but results are not yet available.

As this is a new virus, no vaccine is currently available. Although work on a vaccine has already started by several research groups and pharmaceutical companies worldwide, it may be months to more than a year before a vaccine has been tested and is ready for use in humans.

How long will it take to develop a vaccine?

The development of vaccines takes time. Several pharmaceutical companies and research laboratories are working on vaccine candidates. It will, however, take months or years before any vaccine can be widely used, as it needs to undergo extensive testing in clinical trials to determine its safety and efficacy. These clinical trials are an essential precursor to regulatory approval and usually take place in three phases. The first, involving a few dozen healthy volunteers, tests the vaccine for safety, monitoring for adverse effects. The second, involving several hundred people, usually in a part of the world badly affected by the disease, looks at how effective the vaccine is in the field, and the third does the same in several thousand people.

The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are too frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 2 meter (5 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.