COVID-19 and big pharma: what are 15 leading companies doing to develop a coronavirus vaccine?

A new report has revealed the vaccine R&D efforts of 15 of the leading pharmaceutical companies to combat the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Scientist holding COVID-19 vaccine

The growing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted pharmaceutical companies to initiate R&D processes to find a vaccine that can prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Since the release of the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence in January, vaccine developers have been using previous research from the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreaks to inform their studies.

Reports suggest that the rapid pace at which researchers are currently working mean a novel COVID-19 vaccine could be available within 18 months and possibly sooner.

ResearchAndMarkets has gathered information on the research from 15 of the pharmaceutical companies leading the race to find a safe and effective vaccine.

1. Pfizer

In March, Pfizer announced a joint venture with BioNtech Se to develop and distribute BioNTech’s mRNA based COVID-19 vaccine candidate BNT-162. Pfizer and BioNTech have previously partnered to develop preventative vaccines for influenza in 2018 and the new venture will build on this relationship to accelerate the development of BNT-162. It is expected that the vaccine will enter clinical testing by the end of April 2020.

2. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

GSK announced in February that it will give access to its vaccine adjuvant platform to the University of Queensland in Australia. The company has also given access to Clover Biopharmaceuticals Inc who are using the tool in combination with their vaccine candidate, COVID-19 S-Trimer. GSK has also most recently partnered with Xiamen Innovax Biotech Co.

3. Inovio Pharmaceuticals

Researchers investigating vaccinesInovio have completed pre-clinical testing of their vaccine candidate INO-4800 and the company plans to begin 30 participant clinical trials in the US, China and South Korea in April. Inovio has said it expects results from the trial to be available by the autumn and it also plans to have one million doses of the vaccine ready for further clinical trials or emergency use by the end of the year.

4. Johnson & Johnson (J&J)

J&J is working with Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop a novel vaccine candidate. In March, the company announced it had started pre-clinical testing on multiple candidates in Boston and later revealed that it had selected its lead vaccine candidate, with two back-ups.

5. Novavax Inc

In February, Novavax reported that it has several vaccine candidates in pre-clinical animal studies. In March the company announced a collaboration between itself and Emergent Biosolutions to manufacture an experimental vaccine. The company has now identified its lead vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373 and will initiate a first-in-human trial in mid-May.

6. Sanofi

Sanofi has collaborated with Translate Bio, to combine its deep vaccine expertise with Translate’s mRNA platform to discover, design and manufacture several vaccine candidates against COVID-19. In February, Sanofi also said that it had begun working with BARDA to use its recombinant DNA platform to test a pre-clinical vaccine candidate for COVID-19. The French company has previously worked with the organisation on flu vaccines.

7. Heat Biologics

Heat Biologics has announced that it is partnering with the University of Miami, US, to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Its vaccine candidate, gp96, has been added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) draft landscape of 41 candidate vaccines. The company has also joined the Alliance for Biosecurity, which could help it secure funding to support the rapid development and distribution of its COVID-19 vaccine.

8. BioNTech

Although BioNTech’s primary focus is cancer, the company also uses its deep experience in mRNA-based vaccines to develop a pipeline for a range of infectious diseases. BioNTech is currently working with Pfizer to develop its vaccine candidate BNT-162 and also with Fosun Pharma to conduct clinical trials in China.

9. Vaxart

In March, the company announced a partnership with Emergent BioSolutions to help develop and manufacture its oral vaccine candidate, which will take the form of a room temperature stable tablet. The company suggests that an oral vaccine will offer a significant logistical advantage in the provision of mass vaccination campaigns.

10. Vir Biotechnology

Vir is collaborating with WuXi Biologics and Biogeb to develop and test its lead clinical vaccine candidate. The candidate was developed using an antibody-based approach which it says could allow the vaccine to remain effective even if the virus mutates. The company plans to move to Phase I clinical testing by the summer.

11. Moderna Therapeutics

In January, Moderna Therapeutics developed the first batches of its COVID-19 vaccine, just 42 days after the genetic sequence of the coronavirus was released by Chinese researchers. Phase I trials began in March. The study has enrolled 45 healthy participants aged 18-55 and is expected to conclude in June 2021.

12. Emergent BioSolutions

COVID-19 vaccineEmergent BioSolutions announced in March that it has begun the development of two candidate hyperimmune products against the disease. These therapeutics will aim to leverage the immune response in order to combat COVID-19 and are derived from antibodies found in the blood of patients who have tested positive for the virus. The company has also announced partnerships with two companies, Novavax and Vaxart, to provide development and manufacturing services for potential vaccines against COVID-19.

13. Dynavax

The company is working with the University of Queensland to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. In March, the company also announced that it would make its vaccine adjuvant technology available to other companies working on a vaccine through a partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

14. Geovax

Geovax is using its expertise in human immunotherapies to develop a candidate vaccine for COVID-19. In March, the company announced that they had identified three possible vaccine candidates and are working on narrowing these down to the most effective option based on the results of animal studies. Once the final candidate is selected, Geovax intends to proceed directly to manufacturing and human testing.

15. Curevac

Curevac has begun work on its COVID-19 vaccine and plans to enter clinical trials with its lead vaccine candidate in June 2020. Curevac has received funding from CEPI and the EU to allow the company to quickly scale up its production.

One response to “COVID-19 and big pharma: what are 15 leading companies doing to develop a coronavirus vaccine?”

  1. It would be smart if all companies would come together and use knowledge and share info and tests. I am sure it would work?

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