Coronavirus vaccine current update: Oxford vaccine failure to Moderna’s favourable results, here is the latest status of COVID-19 vaccines and drugs

1. Coronavirus vaccine current update: Oxford vaccine failure to Moderna’s favourable results, here is the latest status of COVID-19 vaccines and drugs

The number of COVID-19 cases has crossed the shocking 5 million mark globally and has already resulted in more than 3 lakhs 30 thousand deaths. Due to the highly infectious nature of the virus and the fact that it can spread asymptomatically, the number of cases is certainly bound to rise. As a result, countries across the globe have teamed up to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus and currently, there are more than 100 potential vaccines in multiple stages of development.

2. The current status of various potential vaccines

The World Health Organization has also recognised 7 to 8 frontrunners of these potential vaccines and underlined the need for accelerated efforts for the development of an effective vaccine fit for human use. However, it is important to note that even as experts and medical researchers work at breakneck speed to develop a possible vaccine, a traditional vaccine usually takes years to develop. Even with the accelerated efforts, a potential vaccine must go through a series of trials to tests its safety and efficacy and it may take more than 12-18 months for the same. This is because completing every step is necessary to deliver a safe vaccine. Here is the current status of various potential vaccines

3. RNA-based vaccine by Moderna Inc.

Touted as one of the front runners in developing a potential vaccine for novel coronavirus, US-based Moderna Inc. has already successfully completed phase 1 trials of its vaccine candidate. Its RNA-based vaccine is currently called mRNA-1273 which uses an alternative approach when compared to the traditional vaccines.

An mRNA vaccine carries the mRNA sequence which is the molecular instruction of making the viral proteins and instructs the cells to make it. The body will then produce antibodies to fight the novel virus. The mRNA-1273 vaccine being developed by Moderna Inc.contains the mRNA strand of the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2.

The biotech company had recently claimed that trial conducted in March has yielded positive results on 8 people as they developed protective antibodies against the virus. The company is now planning a wide scale trial to further test the efficacy of the vaccine which is slated to begin in July.

4. The Oxford University vaccine

The vaccine being developed by Oxford University uses a weakened strain of the common cold virus, known as adenovirus which causes infections in Chimpanzees. They have combined it with the genetical material of the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. The vaccine candidate was developed within 3 months and showed promising results in animal trials. However, recent reports have confirmed that the potential vaccine ‘ChAdOx1 nCoV-19’, ’was not able to prevent infection in rhesus macaque monkeys. As of now, the vaccine seems to be partially effective as it protected the animals from developing viral pneumonia but could not stop the COVID-19 infection.

5. Sinovac vaccine

Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd. is all set to commence late-stage trials to test the efficacy and safety of its vaccine candidate PiCoVacc. This Sinovac vaccine candidate had earlier shown promising results in animal trials as it was successfully able to induce antibodies. According to the Chinese firm, the monkeys seemed largely protected in the trial which is published in the online server bioRxiv.

6. ​Pfizer and BioNtech vaccine

The US-based Pfizer has tied up with German pharmaceutical company BioNtech to develope four RNA vaccine candidates for the novel coronavirus. Their RNA vaccine candidates are based on specially designed messenger RNA and the company has already completed clinical trials in Germany.

The US trials of their vaccine candidate BNT162 are also taking place where 360 healthy volunteers will be given different doses of the vaccine. They are further planning to expand the testing in different parts of the US and dose 8,000 individuals by the beginning of July.

7. Novavax vaccine

US-based Novavax which received 388 million dollars of funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation is all set to begin human trials of its vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373.

Novavax’s vaccine candidate showed positive results in the animal trials and the company is going to begin human trials on 130 volunteers from Australia. The vaccine candidate has been engineered from a genetic sequence of the SARS-COV-2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.

8. Vaccine by the British cigarette giant

A new entrant in the race of developing vaccines for the COVID-19, World number 2 cigarette maker British American Tobacco recently claimed that it is developing a vaccine using protein from tobacco leaves. It further stated that the vaccine candidate has shown promise in the pre-clinical trials and the company is awaiting the approval of the FDA to begin phase 1 of clinical trials on humans.

9. Inovio vaccine

INOVIO Pharmaceuticals which is developing a DNA based vaccine in its San Diego lab claimed that the vaccine candidate has shown promising results in the initial trials and produced protective antibodies in mice and guinea pigs.

The company has already begun human trials in April and dosed 40 healthy participants with two doses of its vaccine candidate INO-4800 vaccine. The shots were given 4 weeks apart. The result of the safety and efficiency of INOVIO’s vaccine candidate is expected to be out by the end of June.

10. Favipiravir: The potential drug for COVID-19 treatment

As countries across the world race to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, Indian pharmaceutical company Strides is all set to test favipiravir drug, which is touted as a potential cure for the COVID-19. The company has already received approval from the Drug Controller General of India to start clinical trials of the medication. For the uninitiated, Japan had already approved this antiviral drug for the treatment of influenza in 2014.

According to a research paper published in, Favipiravir, which is being touted as the potential treatment for COVID-19 is an antiviral agent and shows anti-viral activities against other RNA viruses such as arenaviruses, bunyaviruses and filoviruses. It further states that these unique anti-viral profiles will make favipiravir a potentially promising drug for specifically untreatable RNA viral infections.

In addition to the Bengaluru-based Strides Pharma, another Indian firm, Glenmark is also testing the efficacy of Favipiravir drug and is conducting phase 3 clinical trials for the same.

11. ​WHO pins hopes on India for mass manufacturing of the high-quality vaccine

In a COVID-19 press briefing, the World Health Organization lauded the efforts of India in battling the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. While answering a query of a leading media outlet, it also said that India has a massive capacity for vaccine production and that the world is relying on the country for the same.

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