Although no vaccine has completed clinical trials, there are multiple attempts in progress to develop such a vaccine. In late February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it did not expect a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus, to become available in less than 18 months.
COVID-19 Vaccine Development
There are more than 160 vaccines being developed against SARS-CoV-2 across the world, as of June 21st, 2020 16,32. Most of the vaccines can be categorized into four different categories: virus-, viral vector-, nucleic acid-, and protein-based vaccines 33. The majority of vaccines are still in the developmental stage, but 10 vaccines are currently in active clinical trials (Table 5) 34. Three vaccines (mRNA-1273, BNT162, and INO-4800) are nucleic acid-based vaccines that deliver either the viral DNA or RNA of coronavirus protein to induce immune responses 33. Two other vaccines (AZD1222 and Ad5-nCoV) are virus vector vaccine that use a virus vector such as weakened measles or adenovirus to deliver the SARS-CoV-2 gene into the recipients 33. Four vaccines (Vero cell, BBIBP-CorV, CoronoVacc, and inactivated vaccine) are virus-based vaccines which deliver live-attenuated or inactivate forms of the SARS-CoV-2 virus 33. The final vaccine type (NVX-CoV2373) is a protein-based vaccine which directly introduces part of the coronavirus proteins into the body 33
- Regeneron Pharmaceuticals: Regeneron is a biotechnology and pharmaceutical company founded in 1988 50. Their potential COVID-19 treatment drug, Kevzara, is an interleukin-6 (IL-6) inhibitor and was originally indicated for rheumatoid arthritis treatment 51. As of April 11, 2020, Regeneron had launched a Phase II/III trial with 300 patients 51. In the past six months, Regeneron stocks (NASDAQ: REGN) have increased from $376.51 to $620.35, a 64.76% increase, and Regeneron’s market cap has increased from $41.41 B to $61.29 B since December 31st, 2019 52. (Stock Price as of Sept 8th. $560.65
- Gilead Sciences: Gilead Biosciences is a biopharmaceutical company founded in 198753. Their COVID-19 candidate drug, Remdesivir, was originally created as a therapeutic for Ebola patients51. Remdesivir has undergone several late-stage trials in Asia, and one trial performed by US authorities51. Recent findings are mixed as to the beneficial effects of Remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment51. Gilead stocks (NASDAQ: GILD) have increased from $66.72 to $75.02 in the past six months, an increase of 12.44%, and Gilead’s market cap has increased from $82.26 B to $94.92 B since December 31st, 2019 54. (Stock Price as of Sept 8th. $64.64.)
- Inovio Pharmaceuticals: Inovio Pharmaceuticals primarily develops DNA-based medicines and was founded in 197955. Inovio reported their new COVID-19 vaccine in development, INO-4800, in January 2020, and has since begun Phase I trials51. Inovio claims they will be able to produce one million INO-4800 vaccines by the end of the year, but the practicality of this claim is yet unproven51. Inovio stocks (NASDAQ: INO) have increased from $3.69 to $24.15 in the past six months, an increase of 552.85%56. It should be noted that as of June 24, 2020, Inovio stocks have risen from $15.30 to $24.15 in the past two days56. Inovio’s market cap has increased from $334.49 M to $2.42 B since December 31st, 201956. (Stock Price as of Sept 8th. $10.07.
- Moderna: Moderna specializes in mRNA-based drug discovery and development and was founded in 2010 57. Moderna began developing their vaccine, mRNA-1273, around the same time as Inovio’s DNA-based INO-4800, both of which are currently undergoing human trials 51. Moderna stocks (NASDAQ: MRNA) have increased from $19.75 to $63.84 in the past six months, an increase of 223.24% 58. Moderna’s market cap has increased from $6.58 B to $24.63 B since December 31st, 201958. (Stock Price as of Sept 8th. $55.65.
- Novavax: Novavax is a biotechnology company which specializes in vaccine development59. Novavax already had a new flu vaccine under development prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and has since announced their candidate vaccine, NVXCoV2373, began human trials in May 202051. Novavax stocks (NASDAQ: NVAX) have increased from $4.00 to $76.81 in the past six months, an increase of 1820.25% 60. Likewise, Novavax’ market cap has increased from $128.76 M to $3.80 B since December 31st, 2019 60. (Stock Price as of Sept 8th. $91.86.
In March 2020, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Inno91.86vations (CEPI) initiated an international COVID-19 vaccine development fund, with the goal to raise US$2 billion for vaccine research and development, and committed to investments of US$100 million in vaccine development across several countries.
Also in March, the Canadian government announced CA$275 million in funding for 96 research projects on medical countermeasures against COVID-19, including numerous vaccine candidates at Canadian universities, with plans to establish a “vaccine bank” of new vaccines for implementation if another coronavirus outbreak occurs.
Other Companies working in this field include:
- Codagenix. Codagenix developed a breakthrough approach to live-attenuated virus design that results in prophylactic vaccines and oncolytic viruses as solid tumor therapeutics. The Codagenix platform is based on a computer algorithm that rationally redesigns viral genomes to reduce viral gene function. Codagenix designed viruses stimulate robust T cells and antibodies but are non-pathogenic.