Neucrad Health April 27, 2020
Since vaccines are the most effective measure of arresting a pandemic, everybody is wondering when the COVID-19 vaccine will hit the market. However, we must also understand that vaccine production is a challenging and time-consuming process. Pharmaceutical companies need to follow a set of guidelines and protocols before establishing the result of animal trials and clinical trials. There is nothing sadder than introducing a vaccine in a hurry which does not yield expected results. So, vaccine manufacturers want to be sure about the effectiveness of their product before finally launching the commercial vaccines in the market. Have a look at the top companies working round-the-clock for the production of COVID-19 immunisation.
What are vaccines?
Before going into the details of the various companies who are trying hard for the development of vaccines, let us have a brief recap about immunisation. In vaccination, researchers try to introduce a weak form of the pathogen (antigen) in candidates’ blood circulation so that it can incite a reaction among immune cells. However, scientists also take care that the person should not fall seriously ill during this reaction. Finally, the immune system produces an antibody against the antigen and protects the individual from any future attack of the pathogen. There are two main pathways of developing a vaccine- attenuated vaccines (examples- measles, mumps, and tuberculosis immunisation) and inactivated vaccines (examples- polio, rabies, and hepatitis A and B immunisation).
In the attenuated vaccines, scientists try to culture several generations of the pathogen in mediums other than human cells. The repeated culture goes on until they reach a weak mutant, having the genetic composition similar to the original strain, but can only produce mild symptoms. Then, scientists create a vaccine with these mutant strains. Inactivated vaccines get developed from a dead version of the pathogen. However, they require multiple doses, and may not incite a strong reaction with the immune system similar to a living microbe.
World is waiting to hear from all clinical trials initiated by research institutes, govt. agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and others . Today let’s go through the the following.
1. Oxford University
Recently, a team of scientists from Oxford University revealed that they are optimistic about developing a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 virus. The leading scientist of the team, Sarah Gilbert (professor of vaccinology) opined that she is 80 per cent confident about the success of this project. Oxford University began human trials last week, and if everything goes on as planned, the scientists can expect a commercial variety within six months. All researchers in the team are working seven days a week on this project. The UK Government is also providing complete support to the study and is even willing to buy millions of doses if the clinical trial proves successful.
Reputed American pharmaceutical company Moderna are trying to develop an RNA-based vaccine against COVID-19. They have already started with human trials of the vaccine on 45 volunteers (males and non-pregnant females between the age group 18 and 55) in March 2020. Most of these work is going ahead at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. The company is expecting to wrap up the human trails within June 1, 2021. They are planning to launch the commercial variety within 12 to 18 months. Let’s learn more about it from moderna’s webpage.
3. Johnson & Johnson (J&J)
Johnson & Johnson are also trying their best to develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 virus with the help of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). The pharma company announced in the media release that they had finalised a lead vaccine candidate by March 30. They will now initiate pre-clinical testing of their product on multiple volunteers in Boston. J&J is optimistic about releasing investigational doses of the vaccine by early 2021.
4. Novavax Inc
Novavax Inc is running a joint venture project with Emergent Biosolutions to develop a vaccine for novel coronavirus. The research team is currently in the in pre-clinical animal studies stage, and shortly they are planning to produce an experimental dose of the vaccine. They have also finalised the lead vaccine candidate and will start the human trial from mid-May onwards. According to its media release,
- NVX-CoV2373 identified as SARS-CoV-2 candidate for Phase 1 clinical trial
- In preclinical studies, NVX-CoV2373 demonstrated high immunogenicity and stimulated high levels of neutralizing antibodies
- First-in-human Phase 1 clinical trial accelerated to mid-May with preliminary results in July
- GMP clinical production initiated at Emergent BioSolutions with ability to leverage capacity for large scale manufacturing
5. Inovio Pharmaceuticals
Inovio Pharmaceuticals has already conducted pre-clinical testing of a COVID-19 vaccine. They are planning to run a human trial on approximately 30 candidates in the US, China and South Korea from April 2020 onwards. The research team are expecting the results from these trial by the autumn of this year, and they will try to come up with multiple investigational doses for emergency use by the end of 2020.
Stay safe and practise social distancing.