The companies and organisations working on the vaccine
Companies and organisations all over the world are racing against the clock to create the first coronavirus vaccine. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are over 70 candidates for the coronavirus vaccine in progress. Each of these vaccines must pass through a series of testing phases to ensure efficiency and safety before they are made available to the public.
Which countries are involved in the development of the coronavirus vaccine?
Companies and organisations in many different countries all over the world are involved in creating the vaccine. Some of the frontrunners in the race are in China, including CanSino Biologics, which was the first in the country to enter clinical trials. In the US, Moderna was the first to begin testing a vaccine candidate on groups of volunteers. American biotech company Inovio Pharmaceuticals has also secured funding to conduct clinical trials on their vaccine candidate, with testing being conducted in both the US and South Korea. Other promising candidates are in progress in the UK, Japan, India, Italy, Germany and Australia.
Is a vaccine for coronavirus being developed in the UK?
A coronavirus vaccine is being developed at the University of Oxford. Researchers have reportedly already started testing on volunteers, and have optimistically predicted that clinical trials will be completed by August, with the vaccine being made available to the public by September.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, one of the lead researchers working on the vaccine, said they were “80% confident” that the vaccine would work.
Will there be more than one vaccine available for coronavirus?
It is possible that more than one of the vaccines developed for coronavirus will prove to be effective. The main challenge once an effective vaccine has been identified is mass-producing the vaccine safely, which may have to be done with the collaboration of a number of different countries and organisations.
The frontrunners in the race to find a coronavirus vaccine
CanSino Biologics' Ad5-nCoV vaccine
In China, efforts to develop a vaccine are being led by CanSino Biologics. The biotechnology firm was one of the first to enter clinical trials, using its vaccine platform which has previously been successful in creating a promising vaccine candidate for Ebola.
CanSino’s method in creating the coronavirus vaccine relies on the manipulated form of a less harmful virus (similar to a common cold) to introduce parts of the coronavirus to the body and create immunity.
China has two other promising vaccine candidates, one from Sinovac which is in the clinical trials phase and another from the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, also in clinical trials.
Moderna's mRNA-1273 vaccine
One of the coronavirus vaccine companies which has emerged as a frontrunner in the race to create the vaccine is American biotech company Moderna. Moderna uses mRNA technology to create molecules that teach the body how to fight coronavirus.
Although Moderna was among the first companies to start testing a vaccine candidate, it is still estimated that it will take over a year before it is ready.
Inovio's INO-4800 vaccine
Inovio is another one of the few companies already in the clinical trials stage of vaccine development. The vaccine developed by Inovio relies on synthetic DNA which teaches the body how to create the antibodies necessary to fight coronavirus.
The method of vaccine creation used by Inovio has previously been successful in the Phase I clinical trials of a MERS vaccine.
ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine from the University of Oxford
The University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute has indicated that if successful, their vaccine candidate could be ready for distribution as early as September.
The vaccine candidate has a similar method to the CanSino Biologics vaccine candidate being developed in China, which relies on the use of a less harmful adenovirus virus to introduce coronavirus to the body and create immunity.
Pfizer and BioNTech collaboration BNT162 vaccine
The Pfizer and BioNTech candidate is also an mRNA type vaccine, similar to Moderna's experimental vaccine.
Other companies with coronavirus vaccine candidates
Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Vaccine research has also been announced by American multinational Johnson & Johnson. The medical and pharmaceutical giant has pledged to make one billion vaccines by early 2021. Their vaccine has been projected to enter the clinical trials stage of development in September this year.
American biotech company Novovax has partered with Emergent BioSolutions to develop a vaccine candidate based upon genetically engineered nanoparticles. Their vaccine platform has previously produced a vaccine candidate for influenza which progressed to the third stage of clinical trials.
French vaccine development company Sanofi has joined forces with GlaxoSmithKline to work on a vaccine candidate which uses synthetic DNA to teach the body how to fight COVID-19. Plans have been announced to begin clinical trials in the second half of this year, with a view to beginning distribution in 2021 if successful.