It could be up to two years before the public sees the broad use of a vaccine to combat COVID-19, according to former health minister Jane Philpott.

“Normally you’re talking a matter of years or decades for vaccine development. Here, we’re looking at scrunching things down,” she told BNN Bloomberg’s Jon Erlichman in a television interview Tuesday.

Philpott, who is currently the dean of health sciences at Queen’s University,  added it could be a matter of months before there’s more widespread human trials to test the effectiveness of vaccines.

“Of course everyone’s optimistic that will change the face of what we have to anticipate in the years ahead,” she said.

Philpott’s comments come the same day Quebec-based biopharmaceutical company Medicago Inc. announced it is beginning the first phase of human trials for its experimental plant-based vaccine candidate. And shares of Dartmouth, N.S.-based IMV Inc. more than doubled in early trading on the TSX Composite Index after disclosing Health Canada approved its Phase 1 clinical study design for a potential vaccine against COVID-19.

Philpott cautions that while there’s optimism around vaccine development, the public should be prepared to wait many months before effective solutions are available for widespread use.

“I think everybody should be preparing for the fact that it could easily be 12-24 months before we get in a situation where a vaccine – or vaccines – are developed and widely in use,” she said.

“So we’re going to have to be in a world where social distancing and the whole range of protective measures are part of our lives for the months to come.”