The Long Road Toward COVID-19 Herd Immunity: Vaccine Platform Technologies and Mass Immunization Strategies.Front Immunol. 2020; 11:1817.FI
There is an urgent need for effective countermeasures against the current emergence and accelerating expansion of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Induction of herd immunity by mass vaccination has been a very successful strategy for preventing the spread of many infectious diseases, hence protecting the most vulnerable population groups unable to develop immunity, for example individuals with immunodeficiencies or a weakened immune system due to underlying medical or debilitating conditions. Therefore, vaccination represents one of the most promising counter-pandemic measures to COVID-19. However, to date, no licensed vaccine exists, neither for SARS-CoV-2 nor for the closely related SARS-CoV or Middle East respiratory syndrome-CoV. In addition, a few vaccine candidates have only recently entered human clinical trials, which hampers the progress in tackling COVID-19 infection. Here, we discuss potential prophylactic interventions for SARS-CoV-2 with a focus on the challenges existing for vaccine development, and we review pre-clinical progress and ongoing human clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Although COVID-19 vaccine development is currently accelerated via so-called fast-track programs, vaccines may not be timely available to have an impact on the first wave of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, COVID-19 vaccines will be essential in the future for reducing morbidity and mortality and inducing herd immunity, if SARS-CoV-2 becomes established in the population like for example influenza virus.