Accelerated COVID-19 vaccine development: milestones, lessons, and prospects

Immunity. 2021 Aug 10;54(8):1636-1651. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2021.07.017. Epub 2021 Aug 3.


The development of effective vaccines to combat infectious diseases is a complex multi-year and multi-stakeholder process. To accelerate the development of vaccines for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a novel pathogen emerging in late 2019 and spreading globally by early 2020, the United States government (USG) mounted an operation bridging public and private sector expertise and infrastructure. The success of the endeavor can be seen in the rapid advanced development of multiple vaccine candidates, with several demonstrating efficacy and now being administered around the globe. Here, we review the milestones enabling the USG-led effort, the methods utilized, and ensuing outcomes. We discuss the current status of COVID-19 vaccine development and provide a perspective for how partnership and preparedness can be better utilized in response to future public-health pandemic emergencies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Research* / statistics & numerical data
  • Research* / trends
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vaccination Coverage / statistics & numerical data
  • Vaccinology


  • COVID-19 Vaccines