The development of new vaccines on average takes about 10 years, even the Ebola vaccine that was fast tracked took 5 years to reach widespread trials. However, scientists around the world are collaborating and using all the latest technology to accelerate the efforts to find a vaccine for COVID-19.
Many measures are being employed to speed up the research. For example, rather than testing one animal at a time they are testing in parallel. The time taken to receive extra funding has been reduced and everything is being done to ensure that there aren't any delays in moving from one phase of trials to the next.
In addition, governments are already investing in manufacturing facilities to ensure that they can produce large quantities of a future vaccine and thus vaccinate as many as they can as fast as possible around the world.
The key questions in the development of a vaccine are:
Is it safe?
Does it have any bad side effects?
Does it result in the immune system producing antibodies?
Can production of the vaccine be scaled up so that it can be produced in volume and made or distributed around the world at an affordable price?
Will there be a vaccine?
Although there are currently over 150 vaccines that are being researched many feel that a vaccine may take a long time if at all. There are many illnesses that scientist have never been able to vaccinate against, for example, the common cold). Other viruses mutate too quickly and vaccination is required every year. However, unlike influenza, SARS COV-2 does not seem to mutate as quickly which means that once a vaccine has been discovered it might offer protection for longer.
The success in finding a vaccine will be imperative for many measures to be lifted and for life to return to how it was before. This is due to Herd Immunity.
Herd Immunity is a form of protection where a large enough proportion of the population has immunity from the disease. This results in a low enough rate of transmission that the extremely vulnerable are protected and measures can be lifted. For COVID-19, the percentage of the population required to be immune is estimated to be 60%.