As COVID-19’s death toll surpassed 250,000 globally, states and pharmaceuticals are exhausting all possible avenues in the fierce race of developing an effective vaccine against the coronavirus, which could be our best route back to normal life. Currently, over 100 vaccine candidates are in the development pipeline worldwide which features a diverse range of novel technology platforms, including DNA and RNA, virus-like particle, peptide, viral vector, recombinant protein and conventional approaches of live attenuated and inactivated viruses. Governments are expediting the trial timeline for new vaccines, with scientists hoping that effective vaccines will be on the horizon within 12 to 18 months. This still represents an unprecedented challenge given that the fastest record of developing an entirely new vaccine took 4 years and the typical success rate of below 10%. China, Germany, US and UK are among countries showing promising results in vaccine development. International cooperation and alliance could be the ultimate key to accomplishing this extraordinary mission of developing COVID-19 vaccines at pandemic speed.
The virologists in Fudan University promptly analyzed the complete viral genome of the SARS-CoV-2 in just a few weeks after the earliest cluster of cases reported in December 2019. The full-length genomic sequence is available as open-access so that the whole world access to it promptly. This enables research on vaccine development around the world can be done in a more accurate, effective and faster way. As of 20 March 2020, 40 vaccine candidates were in development stage, among which ≥ 2 of them have entered clinical trial phase.
Challenges: The length of clinical trials (phase I-III) are typically 12-18 weeks. It will probably take another 12 to 18 months to mass produce the vaccine for the general public. If successful, our chance of victory against the COVID-19 would be much higher. However, clinical trials are not a guaranteed solution to a disease. For example, although various stages of clinical trial on HIV vaccine have been carried out, none of them have been proven effective. Furthermore, all viruses evolve over time and the success of vaccination strategies depend much on their rate of mutation. Since SARS-CoV-2 is a new type of coronavirus with unknown mutation rate, the result of vaccination strategy is still full of uncertainty.
1. Wu F, Zhao S, Yu B, et al. (2020) A new coronavirus associated with human respiratory disease in China, Nature. In press.
2. Moderna doses first patient with mRNA-1273 in coronavirus vaccine trial. Available at: https://www.pharmaceutical-business-review.com/news/moderna-mrna-1273-coronavirus-trial/. Accessed on 2 Apr 2020.
3. China approves first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine to enter clinical trials. Available at: https://www.bioworld.com/articles/433791-china-approves-first-homegrown-covid-19-vaccine-to-enter-clinical-trials. Accessed on 2 Apr 2020.
11.3 How “Super” Antibodies Could Help Create a Coronavirus Vaccine
11.4 A Big Unknown in Covid-19 Vaccine Development: How Long Will Protection Last?
11.5 Here’s Exactly Where We Are with Vaccines and Treatments for COVID-19
11.6 Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker
11.7 4 Phases of COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trials Explained
11.8 Evaluation of the mRNA-1273 Vaccine Against SARS-CoV-2 in Nonhuman Primates
11.9 Draft Landscape of COVID-19 Candidate Vaccines – WHO
11.10 Why Vaccine Rumours Stick— And Getting Them Unstuck
11.11 Prices For COVID-19 Vaccines Are Starting to Come Into Focus
11.12 Dr. Anthony Fauci Says He’s ‘Skeptical’ About Russia’s Coronavirus Vaccine
11.13 The Risky Way to Speed Up a Coronavirus Vaccine
11.14 Challenge Trials: the Volunteers Offering to Be Infected With Coronavirus
11.15 New Antibody Tests Offer Better Snapshot of Covid-19 Immunity
11.16 Fauci Says Rushing Out a Vaccine Could Harm Testing of Others
11.17 A Covid-19 Vaccine Problem: People Who Are Afraid to Get One
11.18 Vaccine Makers Keep Safety Details Quiet, Alarming Scientists
11.19 There Won’t Be Enough Coronavirus Vaccines For a Return to Normal Life Until 2022, WHO Scientist Says
11.20 How to Ship a Vaccine at –80°C, and Other Obstacles in the Covid Fight
11.21 Bill Gates on Coronavirus Pandemic, Vaccines
11.22 What Is An mRNA Coronavirus Vaccine?
11.23 Johnson & Johnson Enters Late-stage Trial Testing its Coronavirus Vaccine
11.24 Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Participants Report Day-long Exhaustion, Fever and Headaches — But Say It’s Worth It
11.25 China Joins WHO-led Covax Scheme to Share Coronavirus Vaccines Fairly
11.26 Johnson & Johnson Pauses Covid-19 Vaccine Trials Due to Sick Subject
11.27 U.K. Moves Toward Ethically Controversial Coronavirus Vaccine Trial
11.28 Coronavirus Update 119: Pfizer BioNTech COVID Vaccine: Who, What, When (Clinical Considerations)
11.29 COVID Vaccine Q&A With Dr. David Agus
11.30 You Can’t Sue Pfizer or Moderna if You Have Severe Covid Vaccine Side Effects. The Government Likely Won’t Compensate You for Damages Either
11.31 First Severe Reaction To Covid Vaccine Reported In US