As companies across the world race ahead with coronavirus vaccine trials, the most important question on everyone's mind right now is -- how soon will the vaccines be available for mass use?
Though Russia has already rolled out its COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, for its citizens, the world is wary about celebrating its success considering various doubts over its safety, primarily because it got clearance even before completing phase 3 trials. The country is also planning to partner with India to conduct its phase 3 trials and further rollout for Indian citizens.
Meanwhile, countries like China, the United States and the UK are now coming up with claims that their vaccines will be ready before the year-end or even sooner.
An official working with the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told Reuters that at least four Chinese coronavirus vaccines may be ready for use by the general public as early as November.
The United States President Donald Trump, during a recent interview by ABC News yesterday, said the first US vaccine could be out in just three to four weeks. "...previous administration would have taken perhaps years to have a vaccine, because of the FDA and all the approvals...we're withing weeks of getting it. You know, could be three weeks, four weeks."
While China has four vaccine candidates in the third or final stages of clinical trials, there are at least two companies from the United States and one from the UK and Germany, which are planning to rollout vaccine before the year-end, if everything goes as per the plan.
Let's take a look at all the prominent vaccine candidates in the fray:
The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca vaccine
University of Oxford/AstraZeneca's potential coronavirus vaccine is among the frontrunners in the race towards a safe and effective vaccine to stop the global pandemic. The company launched its late-stage trials at the end of August. Officials from the World Health Organisation had previously hailed AstraZeneca's vaccine candidate as one of the most promising candidates. However, the trials for the vaccine candidate were stopped last week after a participant showed an unexplained "illness".
The trials were resumed last Sunday after reviewing the situation and getting clearance from the authorities concerned in the UK.
In India, Adar Poonawalla-led Serum Institute of India has patterned with AstraZeneca to develop the vaccine candidate. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot last week said the company is still aiming for the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine to be ready by this year-end.
The US pharma giant Pfizer Inc and German pharma firm BioNTech SE last week sought permission from the US Food and Drug Administration to expand the enrolment of their Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial to 44,000, and hopes to submit their vaccine candidates by the next month. "As stated previously, based on current infection rates, the companies continue to expect that a conclusive readout on efficacy is likely by the end of October," it added.
Another leading candidate for coronavirus is US-based pharma company Moderna. It was the first US company to take its COVID-19 vaccine candidate to Phase 3 trials comprising over 30,000 people. The company aims to reveal the results of its vaccine candidate by the next month and hopes to roll out the vaccine before the year end. It is also talking to multiple countries for the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. Moderna has said it is committed to 'equitable access' of its candidate. By 2021, Moderna aims to produce around 500 million doses of its vaccine candidate.
The Chinese company had received approval to conduct Phase 3 clinical trials in July. China-based Sinovac has received positive reviews for its efficacy. The vaccine is in Phase 3 of trials in Brazil, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Brazil's Sao Paulo State governor said the vaccine has witnessed safe response, and that they are expecting it to be made available by early December.
China's CanSino Biologics
China-based CanSino was the first COVID-19 vaccine that received approval from its health authorities, though only for military use as an 'experimental vaccine candidate'. It started clinical trials way back in March, when COVID-19 was spreading its footprints across the globe, including India. The vaccine is at phase 3 trials right now.
The vaccine showed promise and produced safe immune response in phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. The company claims its vaccine can protect people from all kinds of mutation of the virus. CanSino is also conducting Phase 3 trials in Pakistan. Chinese health experts say the vaccine could be ready for mass rollout by November.