It typically takes 10 to 15 years to develop a vaccine, however, recent progress in the development of vaccines could cut the time to three years, according to Thomas Cueni, who was recently interviewed by RTS.
Cueni is the Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (IFPMA), the global association of research-based pharmaceutical companies and associations based in Geneva.
Some have suggested it might take as little as 12 to 18 months to develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus Covid-19, however Cueni is not convinced it can be done that quickly.
The key things accelerating the process are the rapidity with which the world cracked the genome of the virus, the knowledge and expertise gained from work done on other coronaviruses, SARS in particular, and the global exchange of information that is allowing experts across the world to work on finding solutions in parallel.
The biggest problem appears to be recruiting patients for trials. In China, the only country with sufficient cases, it is difficult to coordinate with the authorities to find enough patients with the right profiles, Cueni said.
Another risk for Switzerland is the dependance it has on China for some of the active ingredients in vaccines. Given the disruption the virus is having on global trade, the government is likely to reflect on this going forward.
Mr Cueni also hopes the rapid response to the coronavirus will inspire a similar response to the problem of antibiotic resistance, an unrelated but critical pharmaceutical challenge.