As the world continues to face the pandemic, multiple nations have joined forces to look for a coronavirus vaccine. Various pharmaceutical companies and researchers are in different stages of their search for a vaccine, while some are in advanced stages of finding a cure. According to the World Health Organisation, there are around 100 vaccine candidates in the works but seven-eight top candidates.
However, experimental vaccines that are being tested would need to be approved before they are mass produced and administered to around 7.6 billion people. Developing a COVID-19 vaccine might take 12-18 months, according to US officials. White House Health Advisor Anthony Fauci said that even if a corona vaccine is found, he would be "cautiously optimistic" about its efficacy. "So one of the big unknowns is, will it be effective? Given the way the body responds to viruses of this type, I'm cautiously optimistic that we will with one of the candidates get an efficacy signal," said Dr Fauci, as mentioned in a report in CNBC.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently stated in the government's foreword to the guidelines on restriction relaxations that finding a cure could take up to a year, or worse, might not even be found. "Indeed, in a worst-case scenario, we may never find a vaccine. So our plan must countenance a situation where we are in this, together, for the long haul, even while doing all we can to avoid that outcome," he said.
Dr David Nabarro, Global Health Professor at Imperial College London said that there are still some viruses that we do not have vaccines for. "We can't make an absolute assumption that a vaccine will appear at all, or if it does appear, whether it will pass all the tests of efficacy and safety," he said, as mentioned in a report in NPR.
Nevertheless, researchers from across the world are working to find a corona vaccine. For instance, China's CanSino Biologics is working with Canada's National Research Council to find a vaccine. The NRC said that it would scale up production process for CanSino's vaccine at a Montreal government facility. If the vaccine works, Canadians would have access to it.
Additionally, Japan expects to start clinical trials of COVID vaccine in July, according to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. National Institute of Infectious Diseases, University of Tokyo and Osaka University are some of the institutions that are working on potential vaccines. Abe also said that Japan would also work with other countries to develop a vaccine. He called for more such vaccine research programmes. The Japan government is also planning to approve Fujifilm's anti-flu drug Avigan (favipiravir) by the end of the month.
In a breakthrough, an experimental vaccine for novel coronavirus in macaque monkeys was found blocking several strains of COVID-19. Chinese researchers aim to start human trials of vaccine candidate PiCoVacc later this year.
Moreover, Moderna, one of the few companies to lead the race for a coronavirus vaccine has received fast-track approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The US-based biopharma company announced that the FDA has granted the fast track designation for mRNA-1273 vaccine candidates. Moderna has completed the Phase I of its trials and is preparing for Phases II and III. Fast-track designation would facilitate the development of the corona vaccine as well as expedite review.
US-based drug-maker Sanofi Pasteur also said that it is now entering the race to find a coronavirus vaccine. The company is partnering with the US' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to find a vaccine.
In India, Bharat Biotech International Ltd (BBIL) has joined forces with Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. A vaccine by the name of CoroFlu is being tested by BBIL that is working with the University of Wisconsin. Serum Institute of India that is working with the University of Oxford is planning to produce 6 crore doses of coronavirus vaccine that is currently under trial.