Who will Bring Coronavirus Vaccine Breakthrough? Meet the Firms That Lead the Campaign

Out of hundreds of companies vying to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, five may be closer to achieving the goal.

Companies around the world are working on coronavirus vaccine, with more than 100 being in various stages of development. Some drugs including Hydroxychloroquine have been lobbied for by world leaders including US President Donald Trump, while Remdesvir is being spoken about highly. However, a vaccine will be the best solution against COVID-19.

Vaccines undergo three phases of clinical tests. In the first phase, the vaccine is tried on healthy volunteers. In the second phase, the vaccine is tried on hundreds of candidates from the area where the outbreak of the disease is reported. The third phase is also carried out in the region where most cases of the disease are reported, but the trial is carried out on thousands of candidates (those suffering from COVID-19).

Here is a list of five companies that are said to be the frontrunners in the race of finding a vaccine for COVID-19.

Sinovac Biotech

Sinovac, a China-based company, is conducting Phase I and Phase II trials for the vaccine it developed against coronavirus. Both Phase I and Phase II tests (on healthy candidates and COVOD-19 patients, respectively) are being conducted simultaneously. The company is awaiting WHO's nod to carry out Phase III clinical trial. The company was able to achieve faster results as it was already developing a vaccine against SARS. The vaccine for the coronavirus is being developed by Sinovac with the help of the Beijing Institute of Biological Products.

Representational Picture Needpix.com

Oxford University

The vaccine being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford University is also known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. Oxford University has been carrying out tests and studies to develop a vaccine against MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), both diseases caused by coronaviruses. Thus with the basic study ready, the team of experts from Oxford University started developing the vaccine way ahead of others.

The Oxford University vaccine uses a weakened version of chimpanzee adenovirus as a vector, infused with the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The study has already gone through phase-1 test and the results will be out soon. Following the results, it will enter into the clinical test of Phase II and Phase – III shortly. If the vaccine passes clinical tests in the third phase, the Serum Institute of India, which is working closely with the University of Oxford, will manufacture the vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccine trial (Representational picture) Pixnio.com

Moderna working on RNA Vaccine

RNA vaccine developed by Boston-based biopharma company, Moderna, is said to have received the green signal from the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) to enter into phase II of the clinical trial. The company will test the vaccine on 600 candidates. The main ingredient of the vaccine is RNA that carries genetic recipes to make different proteins to a cell's protein producers. This vaccine is developed to produce partial spike protein that will help in strengthening the immune system which in turn can attack the virus and bring the disease under control.

The company aims to enter Phase III of clinical tests by summer. However, it is said that the vaccine might be costly as it is completely governed by the government of USA by giving the company $483 million through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

China Human trial
China COVID-19 vaccine trial (Representational picture) Pixabay

Pfizer on BNT162 Vaccine

Pfizer, with the help of the German pharma company BioNTech, is developing BNT162 vaccine. The vaccine is already undergoing Phase I trials in Germany. This vaccine also mainly consists of different combinations of the messenger RNA method. The company has already started administering dozes of its vaccine to candidates under Phase-1 of the clinical test in the US.

Accordingly, candidates between 18 and 55 years and another set of candidates between 65 and 85 years will be made to undergo tests. If clinical tests are a success, then Pfizer is aiming at manufacturing 20 million doses of the medicine by December 2020.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals

Biotech company Inovio Pharmaceuticals is developing the INO-4800 vaccine. It is different from other vaccines as it is made of synthetic DNA instead of RNA. The company is using a method similar to the one being used by Moderna. The company is under Phase I clinical trial. The University of Pennsylvania is one of two INOVIO test sites in the United States. The other is in Kansas City.

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This article was first published on May 11, 2020
Related topics : Coronavirus