Fact Check: It Is NOT 'Odd' That COVID-19 Vaccine Was Developed So Quickly

Fact Check

  • by: Dana Ford
Fact Check: It Is NOT 'Odd' That COVID-19 Vaccine Was Developed So Quickly Many Reasons

Is it "odd" that the COVID-19 vaccine was developed so quickly? No, that's not true: There are many reasons that explain how the vaccine was developed faster than other vaccines. Among those are that the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was identified and tested quickly, thanks to prior research; the technologies used to develop the vaccine have been in development for years, and private companies and governments marshalled massive amounts of resources to tackle the challenge of creating a vaccine.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) on December 18, 2021. It reads:

Let that sink in for a minute..
My research when the 'pandemic' first started led me to the information that our health institutions have been looking for a cure since 2004 for coronaviruses. Kind of odd they find one as quick as they did since 2020? No?

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2021-12-20 at 8.21.31 AM.png

Facebook screenshot(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Dec 20 16:01:05 2021 UTC)

First, it's important to recognize that there are many different types of human coronaviruses, as can be seen here. Among them are MERS-CoV, the virus that causes MERS; SARS-CoV, the virus that causes SARS; and SARS-CoV-2. As Lead Stories has previously reported, researchers were working to develop vaccines against coronaviruses for years before the emergence of COVID-19. As explained by the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 was identified and tested quickly as a result of past research.

John Hopkins Medicine discusses several other reasons why the vaccine was able to be developed so quickly. Governments and private pharmaceutical companies invested huge amounts of resources. The technologies used to develop the vaccine have been in development for years. Vaccine developers conducted testing simultaneously to gather as much information as possible. And some companies started manufacturing ahead of when the vaccines were given authorization, so that they would be ready if or when they were approved.

Along the same lines, the Mayo Clinic Health System stresses the significant amount of resources that went into developing a COVID vaccine quickly, but says that companies still adhered to safety protocols and performed adequate testing. Rather than "odd," Dr. Gregory Poland, head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group, described the speed at which the vaccine was developed as "amazing." He said:

This is a spectacular human accomplishment. Think of this from 18 months ago or so when this was identified to having hundreds of millions, billions when you look worldwide that have received a vaccine and the speed at which the science has been able to move. Amazing.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Dana Ford

Dana Ford is an Atlanta-based reporter and editor. She previously worked as a senior editor at Atlanta Magazine Custom Media and as a writer/ editor for CNN Digital. Ford has more than a decade of news experience, including several years spent working in Latin America.

Read more about or contact Dana Ford

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