While the whole world is battling a pandemic of unprecedented proportions, 43 pharmaceutical and biotech companies worldwide have launched their biggest ever research and development initiative to find the vaccine that can contain the novel coronavirus. Among these pharmaceutical majors are India's Zydus Cadila and Serum Institute.
Experts believe it will take 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is available. Normally, a vaccine candidate, after clearing pre-clinical trials with small and large animals, have to go through three phases of clinical or human trials to prove its safety and efficacy. These human trials are done on different popuations in varied geographies and have to create huge data during their 3 phases for regulatory sanctions. In emergencies, like the coronavirus outbreak, fast-tracking is possible, but the vaccine candidate still have to go through various trials before being launched in open market.
Typically, only one in ten experimental vaccines make it all the way through to regulatory approval. Therefore, different approaches mean the chances of success are higher. At present only one vaccine has entered the human trials stage and about 8-10 are nearing that milestone. The rest are still in pre-clinical stage.
Here's a list of companies and projects that are nearing human trial stage todevelop a vaccine for coronavirus:
With support of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), GSK, one of the top vaccine makers in the world, is trying to develop a vaccine for novel coronavirus. GSK is making its adjuvant technology available to support rapid development of candidate vaccines and is working with The University of Queensland, Australia.
GSK has also teamed up with the Chinese biotech company Clover Biopharmaceuticals and is now working with five partner companies and research groups across the world, including in the USA and China to develop a vaccine based on its proprietary adjuvants - compounds that enhance the effectiveness of vaccines.
The frontrunner in COVID-19 vaccine development project so far, US-based Moderna started Phase I trials for the vaccine on March 16 at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. This CEPI-funded vaccine was developed in just 63 days, a record in vaccine development history.
CSL and Seqirus
The Australia-based Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) and German influenza vaccine specialist Seqirus, with the support of CEPI, are working with the University of Queensland in Australia on an established 'MF59' adjuvant technology which uses novel molecular-clamp technology, to fast-track the development of their CEPI-funded COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson expanded its collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and established a new collaboration with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), to accelerate development of a potential novel coronavirus vaccine.
Pfizer and BioNTech have entered into a partnership to jointly develop BioNTech's mRNA-based vaccine candidate BNT162 to prevent COVID-19 infection. The collaboration aims to accelerate global development of BNT162, which is expected to enter clinical testing by the end of April 2020. Fosun Pharma is also collaborating and human trials are expected to begin in two months.
French vaccine major Sanofi has collaborated with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to advance a novel COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Work is underway to leverage previous development of a SARS vaccine candidate using Sanofi's recombinant DNA technology. Sanofi is also coordinating with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and sharing its vaccine R&D experience and expertise to advance vaccine solutions. It is expected that the project will progress to Phase 1 by March 2021.
Sanofi & Translate Bio
Sanofi and US company Translate Bio have announced plans to collaborate on developing a vaccine to treat the coronavirus. The companies said Translate Bio would work on discovering, designing, and manufacturing a number of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates, while Sanofi would provide its expertise in the field of vaccines and support from its research networks.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals & Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology
The partners are developing a DNA plasmid INO-4800 vaccine and are expected to start human trials Phase I on first of April, 2020. This also has support of CEPI.
Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies & Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Funded by Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), they use the same platform as vaccine candidates for Ebola and HIV, and plan to start Phase 1 by end of 2020.
Codagenix and Serum Institute of India
India's Serum Institute of India, in partnership with US-based vaccine specialist Codagenix, is developing a vaccine with de-optimised live attenuated virus. Animal trial data is expected soon.
The Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadilla is replicating viral vector and measles vector and the project is in pre-clinical stage. Zydus is also trying to develop a DNA plasmid vaccine. DNA immunisation is a novel technique used to efficiently stimulate humoral and cellular immune responses to protein antigens and develop immunity. Zydus has one of India's best vaccine development infrastructure and has to its credit developed a couple of original biotech and pharmaceutical drugs.
The other noticeable vaccine development programmes are from a host of small and big biotech companies and research specialists like Sinovec, Heat Biologics and University of Miami, University of Oxford, University of British Columbia and Apeiron Biologics, etc.