While experts remain cautious, pharmaceutical companies from across the world are working towards finding a coronavirus vaccine. Researchers and experts point to a host of issues, starting with the efficacy of a corona vaccine -- if and when one is found. World Health Organisation (WHO) that is on the forefront of the war against COVID-19 has also alerted the world to the possibility that the virus might never go away, just like HIV. "This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities and this virus may never go away. HIV has not gone away -- but we have come to terms with the virus," said Michael Ryan, the organisation's emergencies director at a virtual conference. White House Health Advisor Anthony Fauci also said that he would be "cautiously optimistic" about the efficacy of a COVID vaccine.
Nevertheless, keeping concerns at bay, pharma companies are working on finding a vaccine. Some like Moderna and Novavax are way ahead in the race, while some like US-based Sanofi Pasteur have recently joined the efforts.
Here are the global coronavirus vaccine updates:
Moderna that completed the Phase I of its trials said that results were very encouraging and that the FDA has given its nod to the Phase II of the trials. The second stage would involve 600 volunteers to find whether the proposed vaccine candidate is effective.
Novavax has also said that they are confident that they could crack the code for a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Gregory Glenn, president of research and development for Novavax said that they have seen promising results in the NVX-CoV2373 corona vaccine candidate. The company is now moving to the next stage -- testing on humans.
US-based Pfizer and German partner BioNTech are looking to ramp up trials of coronavirus vaccines. Pfizer's CEO and chair Albert Bourla told CNBC that the companies have early clinical tests happening in the countries. Three of the coronavirus candidates contain uridine-containing mRNA or nucleoside-modified mRNA, while another one contains self-amplifying mRNA.
UK-based AstraZeneca has said that the data from the Phase 1 trials would be available within a month. The pharma company is working with University of Oxford. It expects late-stage trials to take place by mid-year. AstraZeneca aims to work on their manufacturing capabilities once the late trials for the coronavirus vaccine begin. Once approved, the company that has facilities in the US, UK and China will use all of them to manufacture the corona vaccine.
Sanofi Pasteur that has partnered with GlaxoSmithKline Plc to deliver a vaccine has said that it could make 600 million doses annually. The vaccine is funded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Sanofi has two vaccine projects underway. The one funded by BARDA aims to start human trials in the second half of this year, and make a vaccine available by the second-half of 2021.
Meanwhile, a Chinese firm, Fourth Construction, has said that they have built the world's largest vaccine plant with a capacity of 100 million doses. It said that they are equipped with bio-safety level 3 and can mass produce vaccines that have been approved.
Israel's Tel Aviv University is working with Swiss company Neovii to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Neovii will collaborate with a research team from TAU. Once the technology is developed Neovii can rapidly develop and commercialise it. The team aims to develop a corona vaccine that could reconstruct the virus' receptor binding motif (RBM) which is key to the spike protein of the virus.
According to US media, thousands of doses of a potential virus for SARS have been sitting in a freezer in Houston since 2016 as the world lost interest in the disease. Scientists believe that these could work for COVID. Three organisations -- Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development and PATH, a 43-year-old global health nonprofit -- are seeking to start clinical trials of the doses.