How long will it take to get a vaccine for COVID-19?

Your coronavirus questions answered

San Antonio doctor says most vaccines take decades to make but believes developers can work faster in the quest for a coronavirus vaccine.

SAN ANTONIO – Medical experts say the public won’t be safe from coronavirus until a vaccine is developed. But how long will that take?

Viewer SAQ: How long does it usually take to develop a vaccine?

Doctor Larry S. Schlesinger, President and CEO of Texas BioMedical Research Institute, says most vaccines take decades to produce and distribute. Developing a vaccine involves clinical trials, manufacturing and distributing which could take between 10 and 20 years. The fastest a vaccine has been made was the Ebola vaccine which was developed in four years and was successful in stopping the virus in the Congo. The Texas Biomedical Research Institute had a hand in that and Doctor Schlesinger believes a COVID-19 vaccine could be created quicker than that.

“I think we can move faster than we have historically, just by the nature of these groups coming together, but I think it’s going to take longer than people think it might,” Dr. Schlesinger said.

Schlesinger says it’s not likely that a vaccine would be available within the year.

“I think there’s going to be some forks in the road,” Dr. Schlinger said. “Everyone on the planet is susceptible. So you’re talking about giving the vaccine to different age ranges to people who might have other diseases. The idea that we’ll be there by the end of the year... I hold hope, but I think it’s very unlikely.”

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Even when there is a vaccine, how is it going to be distributed to every person in the world?

Dr. Schlesinger said it will be difficult and there are still many unanswered questions experts need to explore. He says with 8 billion people on the planet, the world may need several different vaccines.

“There’s a race to a vaccine. We have different countries participating and so there’s a question about who gets the first vaccine. Is it in the country of discovery or is it going to be broadly distributed? Which companies will partner to effectively make the vaccine?" Schlesinger explained. “So these are clearly questions, challenges that we’ll face.”

Watch Dr. Schlesinger’s full interview from the News at 9 below.

Your coronavirus questions answered: Dr. Larry Schlesinger, President and CEO of Tx Biomedical Research Institute answers viewer questions

Find more answers and ask your own questions on our SAQ page. Watch anchor Steve Spriester ask local leaders your questions weeknights at 6 p.m. on KSAT12 and 9 p.m. on KSAT-TV and You can also sign up for our free SAQ newsletter to get answers to the most common questions in your inbox.

About the Author:

Alyssa Medina is the Video-On-Demand Producer and has worked at KSAT since 2016. She creates exclusive content for the KSAT-TV streaming app. Some of her most notable contributions focus on race and culture or health and wellness. She's created the segments 'Creating Black History in S.A.' and 'New Week. New You."