According to the World Health Organization, over 200 coronavirus vaccines are being developed worldwide, some in the late stages of clinical evaluation, others in the early stages of preclinical evaluation. Each one of these companies is on a race against time to get the final approval for the first generation coronavirus vaccines and the rest of the world waits with bated breath. We know the worldwide distribution of doses is going to take a while, but getting approval is a huge step in the right direction. Who knows? Maybe we will get to see these vaccines doses on Philippine shores next year.
Pfizer and BioNTech
Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine now has a success rate of 95%. This news comes after the drugmaker and German Biotech Company announced last week that it had a 90% effectiveness rate. Recent studies showed that it “was found to be consistent across different ages and ethnicities” which is especially good news for the elderly, who are more susceptible to severe cases of the coronavirus.
BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin shared that they are in the process of applying for emergency-use approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA). If all goes well, deliveries in the U.S. could start before Christmas. Previously, Pfizer and BioNTech have shared that they’re projecting to deliver 50 million doses in America before the year ends and 1.3 billion doses worldwide by the end of 2021.
Their vaccine uses the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology where part of the coronavirus genetic molecule is injected into the body causing causes cells to develop coronavirus proteins. Once the body’s immune system detects it, it creates antibodies to attack the virus.
— Reuters (@Reuters) November 16, 2020
Massachusetts-based company Moderna is another leader in the pack of coronavirus vaccine candidates. Their vaccine is found to be 94.5% effective, just around the ballpark of Pfizer’s. The vaccine uses the same mRNA technology as Pfizer’s and is administered in two shots, 28 days apart.
But nothing is final yet. Moderna is still conducting tests and observations and they’re very private about the whole process. More time and peer-reviewing is needed before the effectiveness percentage is actually proven.
As for the distribution, Moderna hopes to have 20 million doses available in the US in the coming weeks and one billion available around the world for next year. But everything is still highly dependent on whether or not regulators will approve of their vaccine.
Russia prides itself on having their vaccine, the Sputnik V (named after the first Soviet space satellite in 1957, “Sputnik-1”), to be one of the fastest COVID-19 vaccines to be registered. It is already approved for early use in Russia. The Sputnik V is being developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow and is currently going through its Phase III clinical trials. The 92% efficacy is based on 16,000 trial participants who took the two doses of the vaccine and showing up with only 20 confirmed cases. However, like most of the other vaccine candidates, more data will be needed.
The Sputnik V vaccine is based on an “effective platform of human adenoviral vectors,” a method that has been used in cancer research for decades. Adenoviral vectors are genetically modified viruses that remove or inactivate the viral COVID-19 virus preventing it from replicating in our bodies. So far, it seems to have no severe negative side effects.
You might recall that back in August that President Rodrigo Duterte placed his entire faith (and the fate of the Filipino people) in this vaccine. He even went so far as to say he will be one of the first to be injected. Thankfully, Sputnik V’s 92% efficacy seems to bear good news. Visit their website for more updates on Russia’s vaccine.
— Reuters (@Reuters) November 1, 2020
Scientists from the University of Oxford are working with British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca on a vaccine that is currently in its late-stage trials. Dr. Andrew Pollard who is leading Oxford’s vaccine research gladly discussed that their vaccine seems to be “well-tolerated and produced a strong immune response in people aged above 70.” This finding is based on a trial conducted with 560 participants, 240 of which are aged 70 and older.
AstraZeneca is using a “novel chimpanzee adenovirus-vectored vaccine” called the ChAdOx1. Once the vaccine is administered, coronavirus protein is produced in the cells prompting the body’s immune system to respond. Pollard is optimistic that definite results from the AstraZeneca trials will be known by Christmastime.
Johnson & Johnson
— Reuters Tech News (@ReutersTech) November 16, 2020
The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson started working on their vaccine in early January. Much like Oxford and Russia’s vaccines, Johnson & Johnson uses the adenovirus method in their vaccine. It is currently going through the Phase 3 trial including up to 60,000 participants worldwide. But instead of the usual two-dose method that other vaccine makers are doing, this initial study launched in September only includes a single dose. On Nov. 15, Johnson & Johnson announced that they will be adding a two-dose regimen trial to their study with up to 30,000 participants.
Beijing-based company Sinovac Biotech is experimenting with its own COVID-19 vaccine called CoronaVac. It is one of the four other vaccines being developed in China that is in its third and final stages of clinical trials.
Sinovac’s Phase 1 and 2 involved 700 participants and the preliminary results show that the CoronaVac does trigger an immune system response without adverse effects. The findings were published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, The Lancet. However, since the trial participants are all healthy adults excluding the elderly, there are still more tests to be made. Phase 3 trials for the CoronaVac are well underway.
The CoronaVac uses inactivated coronavirus which, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, might require booster shots over time. In September, Sinovac CEO Yin Weidong said that they should be ready for worldwide distribution in 2021.
State-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), in collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, is developing another coronavirus vaccine. A few days ago, reports said that the experimental vaccine has been administered to nearly a million people. Early results from its Phase 1 and 2 trials showed no severe negative side effects, which was why the government gave the go signal. It is even approved for limited use outside the clinical trials in parts of China and in September, the United Arab Emirates gave Sinopharm emergency approval to use on its health workers.
Maryland-based biotechnology company Novavax shared that the U.S. FDA granted their vaccine a Fast Track Designation. This expedites the regulatory review of the vaccine’s clinical program. The NVX-CoV2373, uses “nanoparticle technology to generate antigen derived from the coronavirus spike” which stimulates our body’s immune response and creates high levels of antibodies. Like all the late-stage vaccine candidates, Novavax is currently going through Phase 3 where it will be tested on a larger population. Based on their initial trial and the timeline, the company expects to deliver millions of doses to the United States and Australia in early 2021.
Which coronavirus vaccine candidate do you think will get first approval?