Coronavirus vaccine development: Where does it stand?

Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated it would take 18 months to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Here is an update on the progress of several major companies, in their search for a cure.

Moderna Inc.

On Jan. 23, Moderna received funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, Market Watch reported.

On Feb. 21, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)said it would begin enrolling 45 adult patients into a Phase I clinical trial to test mRNA-1273 as a vaccine for COVID-19. The trial is set to end on June 1, 2021.

On Feb. 24, the biotech company said it had shipped the first batch of mRNA-1273 to the NIAID  for clinical trials in the United States.

Patients will be closely monitored for one year. The trial will be held at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, Wash.

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Glaxosmithkline

Glaxosmithkline, a leading vaccine-maker, is known for having brought to market vaccines for human papillomavirus (HPV) and the seasonal flu.

On Feb. 3, it was announced that the University of Queensland will have access to the British drugmaker’s vaccine adjuvant platform technology, which can strengthen the response of a vaccine and limit the amount needed, according to Marketwatch.

On Feb. 24, GSK announced that Clover Biopharmaceuticals, a China-based biotechnology company entered into a research collaboration with it, for its protein-based coronavirus candidate (COVID-19 S-Trimer).

GSK will provide Clover with access to its pandemic adjuvant system for further study.

Johnson & Johnson

On February 18, 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced that its research arm, Janssen Pharmaceutical, will expand its existing partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), to seek treatments for COVID-19, according to the company's website.

J&J will also be reviewing known pathways of the coronavirus pathophysiology to determine whether previously tested medicines can be used to help patients survive, and reduce the impact of the illness in non-lethal cases.

"Johnson & Johnson has a long-standing commitment to fight established and emerging epidemics and will continue to mobilize resources to support global efforts in combating the current coronavirus outbreak," Dr. Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of Johnson & Johnson's executive committee and chief scientific officer,  said.

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Sanofi Pasteur

Sanofi has joined forces with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to share its recombinant technology platform in an effort to expedite the discovery of a potential vaccine, according to the company's website.

Sanofi will also be collaborating with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) as its research continues, in the hopes of discovering a breakthrough.

“Addressing a global health threat such as this newest coronavirus is going to take a collaborative effort, which is why we are working with BARDA to quickly advance a potential vaccine candidate,” said David Loew, global head of vaccines at Sanofi. “While we are lending our expertise where possible, we believe the collaboration with BARDA may provide the most meaningful results in protecting the public from this latest outbreak.”

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Inovio Pharmaceuticals

Inovio CEO J. Joseph Kim said in an interview with Bloomberg that the biotech company, based outside Philadelphia, is looking to have at least 1 million doses available for the public by the end of 2020, before relying on bigger manufacturers to expand to as many as 50 million.

Inovio has previously worked on a potential shot for another coronavirus, called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, and may be able to use its past research to craft a cure.