The most asked question of all nowadays is probably the question of when the coronavirus vaccine will be ready. All eyes are turned to the prospect of a vaccine because only a vaccine can prevent people from getting sick. The overall number of infected cases is 400,435 with the death toll reaching 17,451.
Coronavirus Vaccine Progress
Around 35 companies and academic institutions are racing to create a vaccine, and around four of them already have candidates they have been testing in animals. The first of these – produced by Boston-based biotech firm Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA) – will enter human trials imminently. The stock of Moderna reacts rather positively to all the news related to the vaccine. Today in the premarket MRNA was up, however, at teh moment of writing, it is falling. Moderna stock is trading at 25.18 (-5.23%).
Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Oslo-based nonprofit the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) said:
“The speed with which we have [produced these candidates] builds very much on the investment in understanding how to develop vaccines for other coronaviruses.”
Japanese biopharmaceutical company Anges Inc said it and Osaka University had completed the development of a DNA vaccine against the new coronavirus and that it would begin testing it in animals soon.
First Volunteers Took the Vaccine
According to the Chinese media, the first coronavirus vaccine has been given to volunteers in China on Saturday. Three groups of volunteers from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, have been given a chance to participate in the vaccine trials.
“A single-center, open and dose-escalation phase 1 clinical trial for recombinant novel coronavirus vaccine (adenoviral vector) in healthy adults aged between 18 and 60 years,” a Chinese document stated, describing the vaccine tests.
On the other side of the world, the Russian Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA) estimated that “a ready-made vaccine” will be available in 11 months.
The head of the FMBA, Veronika Skvortsova explained that the first test results of a prototype vaccine will be revealed by June 2020, adding that the “second phase is planned to be completed by the beginning of the third quarter of 2020.” She specified that “preclinical trials will take up to six months” and that “the first phase of clinical trials will take up to five months,” bringing the total time needed to complete the vaccine development to 11 months.
The “clinical studies of the second or third phases” may be skipped if a certain “World Health Organization protocol is used” in this instance, Skvortsova said. The FMBA has reportedly created three prototype vaccines so far.
Von der Leyen: EU Can Speed Up Bureaucratic Procedures
Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the European Union can speed up any bureaucratic procedures that would halt the approval of a coronavirus vaccine. She noted it is important to focus on what is “essential” and added that all processed can be expedited in times of crisis.
Von der Leyen was responding to a question about CureVac’s vaccine which she described as an important European product and added that it is still possible a vaccine could be available in the fall. The official also noted that funding for the company remains crucial after the U.S. government tried to buy the company to make the vaccine exclusive for the U.S.
Furthermore, one more company decided to take its part. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) said it is looking to start human clinical trials on the coronavirus vaccine as early as November of this year. Its chief scientific officer Dr. Paul Stoffels said the company expects to finish the selection of volunteers that will participate in the trial by the end of March, thus making everything ready for the start of the pre-clinical stage.
He stressed that the drugmaker has started the development of the vaccine in January. The company hopes to start a wider production of the vaccine at the beginning of 2021, Stoffels added.