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Coronavirus latest: Tuesday, May 26

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On Tuesday, Novavax announced that it was moving forward with its clinical trials for its coronavirus vaccine. This comes as a Merck announced it would begin to develop its own vaccine with IAVI and that the company would purchase Austrian vaccine maker Themis Bioscience. Yahoo Finance’s Anjalee Khemlani joins The Final Round to break down the latest news about the coronavirus.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: But I want to turn to the latest on the coronavirus. We now have more than 5 and 1/2 million confirmed cases worldwide. But big news out today, and was a big reason why we saw markets rally, and that's the fact that Novavax has begun-- it's testing its vaccine with humans. It's phase one of its clinical trial. We have Anjalee Khemlani joining us now with more on this.

And Anjalee, I know you spoke with Novavax earlier today. What do we know at this point about the timeline, potentially, of this vaccine?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Right, Seana. Well, it kind of follows exactly what we've seen in terms of this really being a vaccine race and having a number of, especially, young biotechs racing to reach that fall timeline to have at least some sort of emergency use approval. Novavax is no different.

They're talking about having at least some early results by July, so that's just a month and a half away. Meanwhile, looking at August to start the next phase as well as have some vaccines ready to roll, as I mentioned, in that emergency sort of situation. And so we saw that with Moderna. We saw that with Pfizer and a couple others. Everyone's trying to meet this sort of like September-- fall timeline.

Meanwhile, other news includes Merck, which is also one of the biggest players in the vaccine space. And they had been really silent. So it was only a matter of time before we found out what they were doing, and it was a triple whammy with the buyout of a private vaccine development firm from Austria as well as a partnership with a nonprofit to develop a vaccine in addition to efforts to create a treatment.

So three different sort of arms there, and then we saw some headlines earlier where the CEO was talking about this 12 to 18 month timeline, this rapid timeline that we've been talking about, and saying that it's really very aggressive. But going back to Novavax, the president of R & D, Dr. Gregory Glenn, did say that it was possible. And you have to listen to what he had to say about that.

GREGORY GLENN: We expect to see the result in July. And now, normally, you may know this, but the development of vaccine could take many years. You go from phase 1 to phase 2 to phase 3. This trial is designed to be very compressed.

We'll look at the results from this trial and move right into the next phase in August timeframe. And the hope would be that, during that second phase, that we would determine that the vaccine is working well enough that it could be deployed.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: So as you can hear, really talking about a compressed timeline and trials fitting that and designed to meet that timeline. It's something that a lot of the companies are working on right now, Seana.

SEANA SMITH: Yeah, and Anjalee, you mentioned the news that we got out of Merck. I mean, it's exciting because we see so many companies that could potentially be developing a vaccine just from what-- who you have talked to, because I know you're very clued in with this, just what do you think that tells us about the odds of one of these potentially being the answer and potentially being successful in a vaccine against coronavirus?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Well, the key to that answer is actually in the type of technology. So we'll group them.

Moderna and Pfizer, for example, are using a very new technology that doesn't have products on the market. Novavax is using one called recombinant vaccines, and that's another one that Merck is also pursuing. And that's a different kind. It's a little bit newer, but it also has had a longer sort of development period.

And then you have the traditional pursuits. I believe Johnson & Johnson is doing that. And so you notice that Johnson & Johnson hasn't really wrapped up its timeline to meet that fall rollout. It's actually talking about starting trials in the fall in September. And so that sort of clues you in as to sort of how these varied companies are seeing this.

And that's kind of the approach that a lot of experts are saying is necessary, because you do need multiple rollouts. You do need multiple options on the market. When they will all be able to be approved is all dependent on what the FDA feels like is the safety that's proven, especially in these newer technologies.

SEANA SMITH: All right. Anjalee Khemlani, thanks so much for that.