Updated: Aug 3, 2020
There is no saying that the coronavirus pandemic has come to stay. With the impacts recorded so far, the need to develop long-lasting solutions to the pandemic cannot be overestimated. However, so far so good, minimal positives have been recorded, leaving us with the hopes for a miracle. Notwithstanding, a lot of groups have continued to take up the challenge of finding a vaccine against the dreaded virus. In this article, we will explore the latest developments in the race to find a vaccine against the coronavirus.
Since announcing its intent to mobilize toward clinical manufacture two days after Chinese authorities made public the genetic sequence of Covid-19, Modena has continued to work on its mRNA-1273 vaccine in response to the novel pandemic virus. The vaccine which was approved by the FDA for clinical trials on the 4th of March received $483 million in funding from BARDA to enable production in large scale quantity. Though commercial availability is slated for 2021, industry analysts are hoping the mRNA-1273 vaccine provides the needed answer to the search for the covid-19 cure. Results from Phase 1 and Phase 3 studies have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Pfizer has continued to work to help infected patients fight coronavirus through its antiviral therapies and new vaccines. One of the significant works has seen the company engage with BioNTech to develop a potential mRNA coronavirus vaccine. Recently, the team announced they had begun the phase 2/3 safety and efficacy trial for the lead vaccine candidate. This is coming three months after the phase 1/2 safety and immunogenicity trials were held in Germany and the United States for the four initial vaccine candidates. The idea is to continue to move at record-breaking speed towards the development of a covid-19 vaccine given the urgency of the pandemic.
As part of a trial organized by scientists at Imperial College, about 300 people will be given vaccine over subsequent weeks. Prior to this announcement, tests conducted in animals suggest the vaccine is safe and brings about an effective immune response. The vaccine, known as the "Imperial Vaccine," is based on a new approach which uses synthetic strands of genetic code, known as RNA which acts exactly like the virus. Once injected into the muscle, the RNA amplifies itself and generates copies of itself. Then, it sends instructions to the body's own cells to produce copies of a spike protein located outside of the virus. This is expected to train the immune system to recognize and fight coronavirus without leading to covid-19. Due to the fact that only a little amount of genetic code is utilized in the vaccine, the team believes one litre of the synthetic material will be enough to produce as much as two million doses. The unique characteristic of the Imperial vaccine implies that only a single volunteer will undergo immunization on the first day, followed by three more every 48 hours. The numbers are expected to ramp up after a week slowly.
In the last few months, Sorrento has been working on its novel targeted protein vaccine against covid-19 known as T-VIVA-19. This vaccine consists of a recombinant fusion protein of the spike protein S1-domain and the Fc portion of the human IgG1 antibody (Rs1-Fc). The company says it plans are underway to take the T-VIVA-19 vaccine candidate through the necessary regulatory processes for clinical trial clearance while getting ready for large scale manufacturing and commercial distribution in parallel.