COVID-19 vaccine current status: Here are the 9 top contenders for coronavirus vaccines


1. COVID-19 vaccine current status: Here are the 9 top contenders for coronavirus vaccines

Even as countries toy with the idea of relaxing lockdown and restarting life in the COVID era, the novel coronavirus continues to claim more lives. As of now, COVID-19 has infected more than 4.5 million people across the world and caused 3,03,651 fatalities. At the same time, scientists and medical researchers are working tirelessly to develop potential treatments and vaccine for the highly infectious new coronavirus disease. There are 7 or 8 top candidates for COVID-19 vaccine: WHO

The World Health Organization has also identified top 7 or 8 candidates for COVID-19 vaccines. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus elaborated in UN Economic and Social Council video briefing that accelerated efforts are currently underway aided by 8 billion dollars pledged by leaders from 40 countries.

Meanwhile, health experts remain cautious and are strictly advising everyone to stay indoors and practise social distancing. This is to ensure that the health care systems are not overwhelmed and researchers and experts have more time to work on a potential vaccine candidate. Here are the latest updates on the potential COVID-19 vaccines.



2. Moderna vaccine

The US-based Moderna Therapeutics said that it had received approval from the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) to conduct the phase 2 clinical trials of its potential COVID-19 vaccine candidate. It is important to note that Moderna has already conducted phase 1 trials of its vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 in Seattle, Washington. The RNA vaccine candidate was tested on 45 healthy volunteers, who were injected 28 days apart.

This vaccine carries the molecular instructions for the human cells and instructs them to make the viral protein. This kickstarts the body’s immune system to fight the virus.

Moderna Inc. will conduct phase 2 trial on 600 healthy volunteers. The participants will be in two groups, one of them will be between the age of 18-55 years old, while the other group will have individuals over 55 years old. The candidates will be given two shots of the mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate, 28 days apart.



3. ​Novavax vaccine

One of the top candidates of the potential COVID-19 vaccine, Novavax Inc recently received funding of 388 million dollars from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation. According to Dr Gregory Glenn, president of research and development for Novavax, the vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373 has shown promising results. The biotech company will move on to conduct human trials on 130 volunteers from Australia. The vaccine candidate has been engineered from a genetic sequence of the SARS-COV-2 virus and single and double dose of the vaccine showed great promise on baboons and mice.


4. ​INOVIO Pharmaceuticals

INOVIO Pharmaceuticals is developing a DNA-based vaccine candidate in its San Diego lab. The biotechnology company also received a 6.9 million dollars funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The Plymouth Meeting-based biopharmaceutical company completed phase 1 of clinical study on 40 healthy volunteers.

It is important to note that INOVIO went from producing a vaccine to conducted trails in a span of just 83 days. Phase 2 of the trial is slated for the last week of May where the 40 volunteers will be injected with its vaccine candidate INO-4800. The result of the safety and efficiency of the potential COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be out by the end of June, after which the biotech company will begin the phase 2/3 of the trial.


5.​P fizer and BNTECH vaccine

US drugmaker Pfizer has teamed up with a German company BNTECH to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Both the companies are working together on four RNA vaccine candidates. Their vaccine candidate ‘BNT162’ is based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology and the company has already begun clinical trials in Germany. They are planning to start dosing patients for the US-based clinical trials in early July. For the trial of its four potential vaccine candidates, 360 healthy individuals will be given different dosing regimes.


6. Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Another major player in the development of potential vaccine, Johnson & Johnson is currently working on an adenovirus-based vaccine and plans to initiate a Phase 1 clinical study in September 2020. The company also claims to ramp up its manufacturing capacity to produce around 1 billion doses of its potential vaccine by the end of 2021, if approved. J & J expects that the first batch of the vaccine will be available for emergency use by early 2021.


7. ​CanSino Biologics

Chinese vaccine maker CanSino Biologics Inc is developing a potential vaccine for COVID-19 and has been listed by WHO as one of the top contenders. The company is currently working on Adenovirus Type 5 Vector using a Non-Replicating Viral Vector platform to develop its vaccine. The Ad5-nCoV vaccine candidate already moved into clinical trials in the month of April and its Phase 1 of the trial is expected to end in December 2020. For the uninitiated, CanSino Biologics Inc has already manufactured an approved vaccine for Ebola.


8. Sinovac Biotech

Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech is working on China’s one of the most promising vaccine candidate for COVID-19 disease. It has already commenced phase 1 trial and the first dosing of the vaccine for the volunteers has been completed. Earlier, its vaccine candidate PiCoVacc had shown to successfully induce virus-specific neutralizing antibodies in animal trials.

The company had injected two different doses of its potential vaccine into eight monkeys, four of them were given high dosage of the vaccine and the other four were given low dosage.

The macaque monkeys who had received high dosage were largely protected against SARS-CoV-2 infection and did not have detectable traces of the virus in their lungs. However, those who were given a low dosage showed an increased viral load in their bodies, but the company said that it appeared to control on its own.

Sinovac had previously developed a vaccine against SARS but had to stop the production at phase 1 as the disease was contained.


9. University of Oxford

A potential coronavirus vaccine is being developed by the University of Oxford and it has partnered up with UK-based AstraZeneca for the same. The vaccine ‘ChAdOx1 nCoV-19’ was developed under three months by the University’s Jenner Institute. To make the vaccine work, the scientists used a weakened strain of common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees.

While a clinical trial on humans already began in late April, the medical experts conducted an important trial on monkeys. Six monkeys were infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus and the potential vaccine given to them appeared to prevent damage to the lungs. They expect to begin a late-stage clinical trial by the middle of this year.


10. Sanofi vaccine

French pharmaceutical group Sanofi had initiated stated that the US will be given first access to the COVID-19 vaccine whenever it develops as “the US government invested in taking the risk.” For the uninitiated, US agency Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority was the first in line to fund the Sanofi’s vaccine research. However, after a backlash from the French government, the French pharmaceutical company released a statement on Thursday that the vaccine will be available for all the nations.

To develop a vaccine to fight the novel coronavirus, Sanofi has partnered with U.K. rival GlaxoSmithKline Plc. As per the Head of Sanofi Vaccine R&D John Shiver, Sanofi is using an existing technology that was designed for influenza, and they are applying it to the new virus that causes COVID-19 disease. The official website of the pharmaceutical group further states that the candidate vaccine is expected to enter clinical trials in the second half of 2020 and to be available by the second half of 2021.


11. The status of COVID-19 vaccine in India

India will begin clinical trials of its Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine on 6000 high-risk individuals. It will be done to understand its safety and efficacy in boosting immunity in the fight against COVID-19 disease and whether or not the BCG shots can reduce the severity of this highly infectious disease.

The Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine is used against tuberculosis to boost the immunity of the individual.

Bharat Biotech International Ltd (BBIL) has teamed up with the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. One of the world’s largest vaccine maker of the world by volume, Pune’s Serum Institute of India is working with the University of Oxford to make millions of potential coronavirus vaccine doses. The Indian government has also allocated Rs 100 crore from the PM-CARES fund to support the initiative of producing a COVID vaccine.


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