Coronavirus: Race to approve vaccine 'moving faster' than any previous vaccination - doctor

A vaccinologist says although a COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine is a minimum of 12 months away, the process to get it approved and distributed is moving faster than any other vaccination in history. 

Dr Helen Petousis-Harris says there are at least 35 vaccine candidates that may go to a human trial "in the next few days".

She told The AM Show that trials will be completed in multiple phases in countries including Australia, the UK, Canada and China.

"It's moving faster than any other vaccine we've ever seen before," she says.

"You go to human trials, and that's what's going to take us to a minimum of 12 months to 18 months all going well."

She's unsure how the vaccine will be distributed but thinks it will depend on how effective it is on different age groups.

"You're always going to prioritise your frontline health workers because we've really got to protect them. And then you might look at trying to stop the spread by vaccinating the younger people. If you've got something that's effective in older people you might target them first."

Dr Petousis-Harris also believes the Government's new rules for all international arrivals to enter self-isolation will help New Zealand move in the right direction to get ahead of the virus.

"But it's also not enough. We also have to make a whole lot of changes inside as well.

"Maybe a bit of social pressure [to go into self-isolation]. I think we get pretty upset when we hear about people who are not playing the game."

The experimental drug remdesivir is one that is being trialled around the world. US biotechnology company Gilead Sciences is testing it in the hopes it will be an effective treatment for COVID-19.

The findings from the drug's first clinical trial are due to be reported next month, Gilead Sciences says.

A small number of doctors in the US, China and Italy are already using remdesivir to treat patients who have severe cases of COVID-19, The Guardian says.

Remdesivir was originally developed to treat Ebola and has the possibility to help patients in the near-term.