• By Elizabeth Zimmermann

Science Saturday: How vaccines are developed and what that means for COVID-19

June 20, 2020
a research worker organizing test tubes in a Mayo Clinic vaccine research lab

In a recent Zoominar, Robert Jacobson, M.D., a Mayo Clinic pediatrician, gave an in-depth, yet easy-to-understand, discussion on vaccine development, and where we are with respect to a vaccine for COVID-19.

Dr. Jacobson, who is also a health sciences researcher with specific expertise in pediatric infectious diseases, sets the stage for his discussion with a story about vaccines in the 1918 influenza pandemic.

As Dr. Jacobson relates, Mayo Clinic was notably involved in the 1918 pandemic, with Mayo physician Edward C. Rosenow, M.D., developing a vaccine cited as the most widely used in the U.S.

The way vaccines are developed has changed since then, and Dr. Jacobson describes the modern process for vaccine development. In this portion of his presentation, he talks about both passive and active immunity, and then describes the four different kinds of vaccines. He discusses how the decision is made to develop a vaccine, and how a vaccine comes into general usage (or not), once it's proven safe, effective and easy to consistently manufacture.

Dr. Jacobson walks viewers through the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) licensure process, including explaining clinical trials; and surprises some with the knowledge that just because the FDA licenses a vaccine doesn't mean it's used.

Then finally, Dr. Jacobson brings viewers up-to-date on where the world's researchers are in terms of vaccine development for COVID-19. He talks through the eight candidates that are currently in clinical trials.

He describes the questions that researchers are trying to answer, and touches on special designation from the FDA that can lead to more support and connectivity during vaccine development, and possibly a faster track to licensure.

During the last 8 minutes or so of the Zoominar, Dr. Jacobson answers questions from viewers, providing thorough responses to each. Please watch the recorded session below for the full story, and share with others.

WATCH: How vaccines are developed, and what that means for COVID-19

Dr. Jacobson's presentation was a Grand Rounds session, sponsored by the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.  


Other Mayo Clinic medical research websites:


For the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. For more information and COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

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