Since coronavirus broke out four months ago, researchers and scientists from across the globe have been working to concoct the perfect cure. While developing a vaccine might take a few years, researchers from across the globe are optimistic that a coronavirus vaccine may be available by next year.
Once a vaccine or cure is found, it has to undergo multiple rounds of trials. The first round of trials involves healthy volunteers. Phase II is carried out in an outbreak area on hundreds of candidates, while Phase III is a repeat of Phase II with thousands of candidates.
So far, a few COVID-19 vaccines have reached various trial stages. Here's all you need to know about the frontrunners:
Moderna RNA vaccine: Boston biopharma company Moderna said that it has received the nod from FDA to move into the Phase II of the trial. The company will enrol 600 participants in the coming weeks in a study. This will test if a vaccine and induce the immune system to produce antibodies that recognise SARS.
The vaccine candidate is made out of messenger RNA that is responsible for carrying genetic recipes to make different proteins to a cell's protein producers. Moderna aims to make the recipient's cells produce partial spike protein that would train their immune systems to recognise the virus and attack it.
Oxford University corona vaccine: Oxford was already researching vaccines for MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) when COVID-19 broke. MERS and SARS are also caused by coronavirus. So, the university did not waste much time to gear up for a vaccine for COVID. This gave Oxford the much-needed lead.
It has already entered Phase I of clinical trials to study how healthy volunteers between 18-55 years respond to the cure. Once the data is out, Phase II and III will follow, involving a larger number of volunteers.
The vaccine developed by Oxford along with Jenner Institute is known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. It uses a weakened version of chimpanzee adenovirus as a vector, infused with SARS-CoV-2 spike protein genetic material.
Pfizer's BNT162 vaccine: Pfizer is also developing a vaccine called BNT162 with German pharma company BioNTech. The Phase I will enrol around 360 people in different hospitals. Trials in Germany have begun and the company is delivering doses of the coronavirus vaccine to candidates in the US. Pfizer is aiming to manufacture millions of doses in 2020, increasing it further next year.
University of Pennsylvania coronavirus vaccine: UPenn is working with biotech company Inovio to produce a coronavirus vaccine codenamed INO-4800. The vaccine is made of synthetic DNA instead of RNA. The method is the same as Moderna's. SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is packaged into the DNA instead of RNA. The company was testing two doses in 40 healthy volunteers.
Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine: Chinese company Sinovac is in discussion with regulators in other countries as well as WHO to carry Phase III of the clinical trials. Sinovac, like Oxford was already developing a vaccine against SARS, which had to be abandoned after the outbreak was contained. China's Beijing Institute of Biological Products is working with Sinopharm to create a vaccine. Phase I and II trials are being conducted simultaneously.