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Current COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Current COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines have begun around the world, and several other candidates are in development

Rachel Muenz

There are currently many efforts worldwide to quickly and safely develop a vaccine for COVID-19. However, experts cited in numerous news sources say a vaccine is likely at least 12-18 months away from completion, despite the process being fast-tracked.

Speaking in a webinar on COVID-19 on Mar. 13, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, said that a one-year timeframe to develop a vaccine is optimistic and it will likely be closer to two years before a vaccine is available to the general public.

According to a Mar. 20 article in The Guardian, around 35 academic and commercial groups are working on vaccines for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

In the US, the first Phase 1 clinical trial of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccine began on Mar. 16 at Seattle’s Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. The six-week trial will involve 45 healthy adult volunteers between ages 18 and 55. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is funding the trial.

“Finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 is an urgent public health priority,” said NIAID director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, in a press release. “This Phase 1 study, launched in record speed, is an important first step toward achieving that goal.”


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Elsewhere in the world, CanSino Biologics Inc. and China's Academy of Military Medical Sciences is beginning clinical trials of its vaccine in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak originated. That trial will involve 108 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 60, according to the National Post. In the UK, researchers at Oxford University are aiming to begin a small trial of that country’s COVID-19 vaccine in April.

There are many more COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development. In Canada, Western University recently announced that researchers are working on a vaccine at its new Imaging Pathogens for Knowledge Translation facility.

“An effective vaccine will have a tremendous impact on stopping the spread of the virus or alleviating the symptoms of the disease in infected individuals,” said Stephen Barr, PhD, associate professor at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, in a press release. “In the face of an outbreak like this one, putting together collaborative teams and working with other labs across the country is critically important for giving Canada the greatest chance to effectively control and manage this pandemic.”

Some of the commercial groups working on COVID-19 vaccines include Pfizer and BioNTech, Medicago, Heat Biologics, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Sanofi and Regeneron, and Vaxart and Emergent BioSolutions.

With so many dedicated teams working together around the world to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, perhaps a timeline of one year is not out of the question.