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Scientists are in a sprint to find a vaccine that could stamp out the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said on Friday he's "cautiously optimistic" that a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine will be ready for distribution in early 2021.

Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

A coronavirus vaccine could be ready for distribution by the end of the year, and distributed to Americans in 2021, the nation's top infectious disease specialist told lawmakers Friday.

While it typically takes years to develop vaccines, new technologies, the lack of bureaucratic red tape and the human body's robust immune response to COVID-19 have hastened the process, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

Vice President Mike Pence came to the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine on Monday, announcing the school's participation in Phase 3 trials in the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine candidate made by the U.S. biotech company Moderna and developed in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health starts its final phase of testing Monday.

Most health experts agree that the need for a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is clear.

"To return to a semblance of previous normality, the development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines is an absolute necessity" is how a perspective in Science magazine puts it.

When Jennifer Haller heard that researchers were looking for volunteers to be injected with an experimental coronavirus vaccine, the Seattle mother of two rolled up her sleeve.

Well, not literally. Haller, 43, the first person to receive the vaccine, was wearing a tank top when a pharmacist, sheathed in gloves, a mask and protective eye gear, injected her with an experimental vaccine named mRNA-1273. It made her arm a bit sore, "but besides that, no, no side effects," she says.