Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett (Courtesy of UNC Health Care)
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett (Courtesy of UNC Health Care)

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a National Institutes of Health research fellow, is among a group of medical and science experts tasked with providing progress reports on tests and vaccines related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Corbett, 34, who leads a team of NIH scientists, met in early March with President Trump, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and others at her Bethesda, Md.-based work site where her immunopathogenesis team leads the coronavirus vaccine development team. They hope to prevent coronavirus infections by producing a safe working vaccine that could be ready for use in doctors’ offices in early 2021.

“We are targeting fall for the emergency use for healthcare workers who might be in constant contact and risk of being exposed over and over,” Corbett told CNN Tuesday. “And then for the general population, our target is for next spring. That is if all things go well and if phase one and phase two and phase three clinical trials work simultaneously for the good. Our plan is to have people vaccinated all over the world by next spring.”

Corbett added that with a stroke of luck, the country may not even be under its current level of stress and containment.

“There might not be this level of exposure come fall,” said Corbett, who majored in biology and sociology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and earned a doctorate from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2014. “But if there is, there are mechanisms by which we could get a product approved for emergency use in people who might be exposed constantly.”

After Corbett’s team began first-stage clinical trials on March 16 of a COVID-19 vaccine — the first of its kind in the world and the fastest progress ever towards a possible vaccine for a novel pathogen — at least 40 distinct groups of researchers in China, Germany, the United States and other countries soon followed.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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