Coronavirus is continuing its spread across the world with more than 60 million confirmed cases in 190 countries and more than 1.4 million deaths. The virus is surging in many regions and countries that had apparent success in suppressing initial outbreaks are also seeing infections rise. Now, all eyes are on pharmaceutical manufacturing companies that are trying to develop a vaccine.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are currently more than 100 COVID-19 vaccine candidates under development, with a number of these in the human trial phase.
However, there are only five companies that have given preliminary data about how effective their vaccines could be to fight against coronavirus. These five companies include Pfizer-BioTech, Moderna Inc, Oxford University-AstraZeneca Plc, and Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.
1. Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine
US-based vaccine developer- Pfizer and German start-up BioNTech announced their vaccine has the ability to prevent more than 90 per cent of people from getting COVID-19. The drug manufacturers have concluded phase-3 study of their mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate BNT162b2, and have requested the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) of the vaccine. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires storage at about -70 degrees Celsius, which requires specialised freezers.
Doses: 2, 28 Days Apart
Doses by Year End: 50 million
Price: Reportedly, $19.50 per dose for the first 100 million doses
Storage: -70 degrees Celsius
2. Moderna Inc
Another US company that used the same approach of m-RNA to develop a vaccine against coronavirus has claimed that its vaccine is 95 per cent effective. Moderna Inc's vaccine uses the same approach of injecting part of the virus's genetic code in order to provoke an immune response.
Moderna's vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 can be stored at - 20 degrees Celsius for up to six months and can be kept in a standard fridge for up to a month.
Doses: 2, 28 Days Apart
Doses by Year End: 50 Million
Price: Between $25-$37 per dose
Storage: -20 degrees Celsius
3. Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine
British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca has announced three kinds of data about the efficacy of its vaccine. Interim data suggested 70 per cent protection but the researchers say the figure may be as high as 90 per cent by tweaking the dose.
According to AstraZeneca and Oxford University, their vaccine candidate AZD1222 was 90 per cent effective when the first dose was halved and a standard second dose was administered. However, it showed the efficacy of 62 per cent when two full doses were administered to volunteers in 28 days part.
In India, the Serum Institute of India (SII) has collaborated with AstraZeneca to develop the Covidshield vaccine. The SII has given two full doses of vaccine to the participants in its phase 2 and 3 of clinical trials in the country. The Pune-based institute will apply to the Indian regulator for a possible emergency licence in December.
Doses: 2, 28 Days Apart
Price: Around Rs 500 (not confirmed yet)
4. Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology
Russia became the first country in the world to register a coronavirus vaccine, called Sputnik V in August. The vaccine was registered on 11 August 2020 by the Russian Ministry of Health. The vaccine was approved for distribution in Russia, despite having been tested only in a small number of people in early-stage clinical trials that lasted two months. The institute published phase 1 and 2 results in September but the pivotal phase-3 results are yet to be published. Earlier this month, the institute announced that the vaccine candidate showed 91.4 percent efficacy.
Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has partnered with Indian pharmaceutical company Hetero to produce over 100 million Sputnik V doses in India per year. The production is expected to begin in 2021. The organisation has indicated a dose of the vaccine will cost no more than $10, about half the cost of the Pfizer vaccine.
Price: Free for Russia; less than $10 for international markets
Storage: -18 degree Celsius
Apart from Serum Institute of India, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila are two other major firms that are conduction phase-3 clinical trials of coronavirus vaccine.
Bharat Biotech is developing Covaxin in collaboration with the ICMR - National Institute of Virology (NIV). The vaccine is expected to be 60 percent effective against SARs-Cov-2. The company aims to launch the vaccine by the second quarter of 2021.
Price: Not Announced
Storage: 2-8 degrees Celsius
On the other hand, Zydus Cadila has finished its phase-2 trial of the ZyCov-D vaccine candidate. It is planning to begin phase-3 trials in December. Zydus vaccine candidate is a DNA vaccine comprising genetic material of the COVID-19 virus, which will instruct the human cells to produce SARS-CoV2 antigen - thereby inducing an immune response.