When will there be a vaccine or a treatment for Covid-19?
Big question. As an immunologist I've seen nothing like it. There's a feeding frenzy to make a vaccine to protect us against SARS-CoV2 (the virus that causes the new lung disease called Covid-19). And there's an equally frenzied effort to make medicines that will protect you if you become infected.
This is good news. It means that ultimately Covid-19 will be beaten and we can all go back to normal. It's only a matter of when, and of course, the sooner the better.
Even Donald Trump has got in on the act. When told by Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (the US government agency that does research into infectious diseases) that it could be up to 18 months before a vaccine is available to the public, Trump responded: "I mean, I like the sound of a couple months better, if I must be honest."
Trump doesn't understand the process of how a new vaccine is developed or how new medicines might be made available. Like a child, he said last Monday: "So you have a medicine that's already involved with the coronaviruses, and now you have to see if it's specifically for this," Trump told his audience. "You can know that tomorrow, can't you?"
Sadly it takes a bit longer than that - because when new vaccines or medicines are developed, the first responsibility of the doctors involved is to 'do no harm' and that means they have to be careful and test for safety.
But given the current anxieties around Covid-19, both for our health and also our economies, speed is now the key.
First let's look at the effort to make a vaccine.
Vaccines are the biggest contribution to medicine, because they protect millions of people from getting nasty infectious diseases - diseases like measles, polio, diphtheria, cholera and typhoid, which terrified our ancestors.
A vaccine is either a part of a germ or a weakened form. They are injected into our bodies and provoke a mild immune response. This trains the immune system so that when the real bad guy comes along, it's good to go. It recognises, and kills, the intruder and is so effective that you won't even know you've been infected.
A vaccine is a bit like a sheriff who puts up wanted posters all over town. When the bad guy shows up he's recognised and arrested. Vaccines also have a second part which is needed to boost the immune response - it's called an adjuvant, and is a bit like the glue that might be used to get the wanted poster to stick to the wall. Most vaccines need an adjuvant to work.
What about SARS-CoV2?
Luckily, it looks like it's an easy one to vaccinate against. A key weapon that your immune system has is antibodies. These are highly specialised specific proteins that can lock onto germs and stop them in their tracks.
In the case of SARS-CoV2, the antibodies will stop the virus entering cells in our bodies. The virus has a 'key' on its surface that it inserts into a 'lock' on the surface of cells in your lungs (called ACE2) which it opens to get inside.
Antibodies can mask that key - a bit like blu-tack - and the key can no longer fit in the lock and hey presto, the virus can't get in. The antibodies can also coat the virus and help immune cells gobble the virus up. This works. Several companies and universities are trying hard for a vaccine, with at least 20 currently in the race.
How are they doing it and what are the chances? Well, a company called Moderna is ahead of the pack. They smashed the record for the fastest time between identifying SARS-CoV2 and creating a vaccine ready to test in humans: just 42 days. They're using the virus's genetic material as opposed to the whole virus, which is quicker to make and likely to be safer. Moderna is about to start testing in humans, and all being well, it will be available towards the end of the year. It takes time because it has to be made in bulk, checked for purity, tested in animals first and then the human trials can begin. But over 100 Moderna staff are currently working full-time on the project.
The estimated cost? An eye-watering $2bn over the next 12-18 months, which is coming from private and public sources and philanthropy. Moderna may be the first to test in humans - but many more are trying to create a vaccine, from big pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi, to academics (where the University of Queensland in Australia is in the lead).
Scientists are also pursuing new ideas, including finding people who have fought the virus and taking antibodies from their blood which can then be used to make similar antibodies to give to infected people.
GlaxoSmithKline, the world's largest vaccine maker, has also stepped up efforts and are allowing their manufacturing facilities to be used and one of their special adjuvants.
Given all this science, and all this effort, optimism is high that a vaccine will be a available soon.
In the meantime, though, there are other options. If you have COVID-19, some drugs relieve the symptoms.
In China, over 80 drugs are being tested in patients. These include steroids which are anti-inflammatory and suppress the highly-damaging lung inflammation that is a major cause of death. Another drug called chloroquine, which is used to treat malaria, is also showing promise. This also stops inflammation.
Finally, a drug called Remdesivir which was developed by drug company Gilead for the treatment of Ebola virus, is showing promising anti-viral effects and is safe for human use.
The future, therefore, looks bright for the effort to either protect us from infection with a vaccine, or to treat us if we get infected and become sick. Let's hope for speedy progress and we can then all go back to worrying about the things we normally worry about.
Luke O'Neill FRS is professor of Biochemistry in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College Dublin