Here are the most discussed COVID-19 vaccine options that are approaching clinical tests and which will be conducted on people (if they are not already) sometime soon.
1. Russia's 'Vector'
The Russian consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor announced on 20 March that its Novosibirsk-based research centre "Vector" had already started testing vaccines in the country, so the mass production of them could be launched in the fourth quarter of 2020. Although the substance hasn’t yet been named, the prototypes are mRNA, peptide, and subunit vaccines.
There are quite a few promising ventures by other countries, predominantly China, which have already entered stages 1-3 of clinical testing, or are just on the verge of doing so.
2. Chinese Gilead Sciences’ Remdisivir
The vaccine is tasked with easing patients’ fever and helping them to get out of hospital after no more than two weeks, Statnews wrote. The drug, which was also previously used in an Ebola virus study, is applied intravenously and is currently being tested by China (in phase 3) on 1,000 patients diagnosed with the coronavirus infection.
3. Ascletis Pharma's Venture
Somewhat less close to clinical testing is a development by another Chinese drug maker, Ascletis Pharma - a hybrid of two antiviral medicines: one approved for HIV and one approved for hepatitis C - anoprevir and ritonavir respectively. The company recently enrolled 11 patients with coronavirus-induced pneumonia and administered the combination, later boasting that the patients were successfully cured.
4. Moderna Therapeutics' MRNA-1273
Another Chinese enterprise, Moderna Therapeutics, has meanwhile entered phase 1 of clinical tests with its mRNA-1273, a vaccine candidate identified within just 42 days of tracking the novel coronavirus. The synthetic strand of the messenger known as mRNA is to convince human cells to release natural COVID-19 antibodies into the blood. The company is working with the National Institutes of Health and if mRNA-1273 proves to be safe, Moderna will enrol more patients to determine whether the vaccine safeguards from the infection. Among those who received the first jab were four American volunteers at the Kaiser Permanente research facility in Seattle, Washington.
5. Tianjin-headquartered CanSino Biologics Project
The marketer of the Ebola vaccine, this company is yet another entity scrambling to compete with all the rest in the development of an effective preventive measure against COVID-19. More specifically, it is trying to marry the coronavirus’ genetic code with a less dangerous virus and clinical tests, already approved by the Chinese authorities, are due to start in the near future.
6. CureVac: US-German Apple of Discord
There has reportedly been a tug of war lately between the US and Germany over a promising firm called CureVac, which is based in Tübingen, but also has branches in Frankfurt and the US state of Massachusetts. US President Donald Trump has reportedly been offering hefty sums to German scientists working on a vaccine in a bid to secure rights to their prospective brainchild, while other reports stated that Berlin has likewise tried to offer the promising company financial incentives for it to proceed with research in its home country. Last Friday, co-founder Florian von der Mülbe, who is in charge of the firm’s production, told Reuters that they had begun to pore over a slew of possible vaccines, with the two most viable ones expected to be picked later on for clinical testing, with human trials preliminarily expected in late summer.
7. San Diego-based Arcturus Therapeutics' RNA Editing
The company is working on a vaccine that heavily relies on engineering RNA, so that the edited version of the virus would encode proteins that would protect against infection and load it into a liquid nanoparticle. The approach is believed to promise a better immune response at a lower vaccine dose than mRNA approaches. The company is planning to kickstart human trials as quickly as possible.
As per Worldometers.info, the overall number of coronavirus infections has topped 245,850 around the globe, with the death toll exceeding 10,000. Italy has become the new epicentre of the pandemic with 3,405 having died of coronavirus-related illnesses, overtaking China’s death toll by more than 150. To date, 88,441 people are registered to have recovered around the world.