As the COVID-19 pandemic continues tearing its way across the globe, infecting more than 3.8 million people and claiming the lives of over 260,000, the need for a safe and effective vaccine is more urgent than ever. As of Tuesday (May 5), there are eight candidate vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical evaluation, according to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Solidarity Trial, which is facilitating global collaboration and accelerated efforts into testing all candidate vaccines at the initial stage of development.
The WHO, with Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the helm, is coordinating the worldwide push to find a vaccine to beat COVID-19. So far in the Solidarity Trial, The WHO has been focusing on the following actions:
“Harnessing a broad global coalition to develop and evaluate candidate vaccines as quickly and safely as possible by convening and coordinating multiple public and private partners and using the best scientific and public health evidence and ethical principles.
“Mapping candidate vaccines and their progress across the world and fostering regular open dialogue between researchers and vaccine developers to expedite the exchange of scientific results, debate concerns and propose rapid and robust methods for vaccine evaluation.
“Defining the desired characteristics of safe and effective vaccines to drive and focus research that is public health and needs oriented.
“Coordinating clinical trials across the world to accelerate multiple actions with the aim of providing a safe and effective vaccine as early as possible.”
In the most updated draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines (May 5), the WHO has identified eight candidate vaccines currently in clinical evaluation:
- Adenovirus Type 5 Vector – Developed by CanSino Biological Inc. and Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, with a non-replicating viral vector platform (same platform for Ebola). Phase 1 is completed; currently in Phase 2.
- LNP-encapsulated mRNA – Developed by Moderna and NIAID, with an RNA platform (same platform for multiple candidates). Phase 1 is completed; Phase 2 is in IND submission.
- Inactivated – Developed by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and Sinopharm, with an inactivated platform. It is currently in Phase 2.
- Inactivated – Developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products and Sinopharm, with an inactivated platform. It is currently in Phase 2.
- Inactivated + alum – Developed by Sinovac, with an inactivated platform (same platform as SARS). It is currently in Phase 2.
- ChAdOx1 – Developed by the University of Oxford, with a non-replicating viral vector platform (same platform as MERS, influenza, TB, Chikungunya, Zika, MenB and the plague). It is currently in Phase 2.
- 3 LNP-mRNAs – Developed by BioNTech, Fosun Pharma and Pfizer, with an RN platform. It is currently in Phase 2.
- DNA plasmid vaccine with electroporation – Developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals, with a DNA platform (same platform for multiple candidates). It is still in Phase 1.
Besides those in clinical evaluation, there are 100 candidate COVID-19 vaccines in preclinical evaluation. With over 120 vaccines proposed all over the world, the WHO is coordinating with doctors, scientists and researchers to keep track of all candidate vaccines in trial, with key criteria in place to identify which vaccines should go into Phase 2 and 3.
“Once a safe and effective vaccine becomes available, it will be vital that it is accessible to everyone who needs it. WHO will continue to work to align R&D, fast-track regulatory approvals and manufacturing so that all populations in all countries can access a vaccine as early as possible.” – WHO
Meanwhile, the search for a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 continues. /TISG