CEO of Meharry Medical College says vaccine unlikely for year or more

Posted at 6:53 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 22:36:20-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The CEO of Meharry Medical College believes the creation of a successful coronavirus vaccine will not happen any time soon.

Dr. James Hildreth made the comments during the mayor's press conference Monday morning. Dr. Hildreth said researching and developing a vaccine is a lengthy process which will only happen quickly if everything goes exactly the way doctors hope.

"What I'm trying to do is make sure people understand the scope of the challenge given that we've only known about the virus for 6 months," said Dr. Hildreth. "But, I can tell you the level of focus on this singular challenge by the global scientific community is unprecedented. A lot of laboratories dropped what they were doing and turned their attention to coronavirus given the urgency of it."

Meharry researchers are working on an antiviral drug that they hope will slow the spread of the virus. Hildreth said he believes a drug will come out before a vaccine might.

"I really think that in a year or less there's going to be a drug to treat COVID-19. But I think the timeline for a vaccine if I'm going to be completely honest it might take longer than that," he said.

He also said he believes the efforts to flatten the curve in Tennessee were effective. He said perhaps the quickest way to end the viral threat is to continue to slow the spread.

"The fact that we have seen fewer cases and we have flattened the curve," said Dr. Hildreth. "Some people are taking that as we overreacted. Actually, the actions that we took are responsible for the data that we're getting and people need to know that. That what they've done achieved the desired effect and if we keep doing it we can actually put the virus behind sooner rather than later."