Ongoing Efforts Toward Vaccine Development for COVID-19

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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is spreading throughout the world, and vaccine developers have responded with unprecedented speed. Since the COVID-19 genome sequence was released in January, human trials of an experimental vaccine candidate have already begun in the Seattle area. Although the typical timeline for vaccine development can take up to 7 years, researchers have benefited from previous research on other coronaviruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome, and it is hoped that an effective vaccine could be available in 18 months.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute have started to recruit healthy Seattle-area volunteers to participate in the first clinical trial of an experimental coronavirus vaccine. The aim is to enroll 45 adults from the region in the trial. The study will test the safety of various doses of the vaccine developed by the biotechnology company Moderna.

Other Coronavirus Treatments in Development

Here is a brief look at some of the treatments under study for COVID-19 and the pharmaceutical sponsors.

In February, Novavax reported that it has several vaccine candidates in preclinical animal studies. The company plans to begin phase I clinical studies by June. In March, the company announced a collaboration between itself and Emergent Biosolutions to manufacture an experimental vaccine.

In February, Sanofi started working with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to use its recombinant DNA platform to test a preclinical vaccine candidate for COVID-19. The French company has previously worked with the organization on flu vaccines.

Heat Biologics has announced that it is partnering with the University of Miami to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Its vaccine candidate, gp96, has been added to the World Health Organization’s draft landscape of 41 candidate vaccines. The company has also joined the Alliance for Biosecurity, which may help to secure funding to support the rapid development and distribution of its COVID-19 vaccine.

In March, Pfizer announced a joint venture with BioNtech SE to develop and distribute its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate BNT-162. Pfizer and BioNTech have previously partnered to develop preventive vaccines for influenza in 2018, and the new venture will build on this relationship to accelerate the development of BNT-162. It is expected to enter clinical testing by the end of April 2020.

GlaxoSmithKline has brought many vaccines to the market, including vaccines for human papillomavirus and the seasonal flu. In February, the company announced it will give access to its vaccine adjuvant platform to the University of Queensland, Australia. It also has given access to Clover Biopharmaceuticals, who is using it in combination with its vaccine candidate, COVID-19 S-Trimer.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals has completed preclinical testing of its vaccine candidate INO-4800, and the company plans to begin 30 participant clinical trials in the United States, China, and South Korea in April. Inovio has said it expects results from the trial to be available by the autumn, and it plans to have 1 million doses of the vaccine ready for further clinical trials or emergency use by the end of the year.

Johnson & Johnson is working with BARDA to develop a vaccine candidate. In March, the company said it had started preclinical testing on multiple candidates in Boston, and it aims to have a vaccine candidate shortly.

In January, Moderna developed the first batches of its COVID-19 vaccine, just 42 days after the genetic sequence of the COVID-19 virus was released by Chinese researchers. Phase I trials began in March. The study will follow 45 healthy participants (between the ages of 18 and 55) and is expected to conclude in June 2021.

Emergent BioSolutions is focused on developing treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. In March, the company announced it has begun development of two candidate hyperimmune products against the disease. These therapeutics will aim to leverage the immune response treat COVID-19 and are derived from antibodies found in the blood of people who have tested positive for the virus. The company has also announced partnerships with two companies, Novavax & Vaxart, to provide development and manufacturing services for potential vaccines against COVID-19.

Dynavax is working with the University of Queensland to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. In March, the company also announced it would make its vaccine adjuvant technology available to other companies working on a vaccine through a partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness.

The full article as well as research on all 15 companies can be found at