Information You Need: Where are we at with a vaccine?

As of June, there are over 150 vaccine candidates undergoing research for their ability to prevent COVID-19. However, the timeline for completion is still unknown at this point. On average, typical vaccine development takes a decade; however, with the pressing need for a prevention option and an influx of available funding, there is hope that a vaccine will be available sooner rather than later. Experts are optimistic that there will be a front running vaccine candidate by the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021. 

To reach the public, vaccines must go through four phases of clinical trials in humans:

  • Phase I: a small group of healthy people receive the vaccine, dosage is usually determined during this phase.
  • Phase II: a few hundred healthy people receive the vaccine, side effects are more thoroughly studied during this phase.
  • Phase III: hundreds to thousands of healthy people receive the vaccine, and these people are compared to those who take a placebo version.
  • Phase IV: Long term effects are monitored.

Out of the many vaccines in development, roughly 13 have moved on to human, clinical trials.

These include:

Moderna“mRNA-1273”The company will begin phase III of clinical trials later this summer.
University of Oxford (England)“ChAdOx1 nCov-19”Volunteers are enrolled for phase I and II.
CanSino Biologics“Ad5-nCoV”Currently in phase I and II of clinical trials.
Inovio“INO-4800”Phase I and II began in early June.
Sinopharm“Inactivated Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia vaccine”There are two vaccines in development: One is the first to reach phase III and the other is currently in phase I and II.
Pfizer“BNT162”Entered phase I and II clinical trials.
Sinovac Biotech“CoronaVac”Currently in phase I and II of clinical trials.
Novavax“NVX-CoV2373”Entered phase I and II trials in May.
Imperial College (London)“LNP-nCoVsaRNA”Began phase I clinical trial in late June.
CureVacmRNA vaccineEntered phase I in June.
Institute of Medical Biology (China)“NCT04412538”Phase II has begun.
Gamaleya Research Institute (Russia)“Gam-COVID-Vac Lyo”Currently in phase I.

These vaccines use a variety of technologies, which we will be discussed in future topics. It is also important to note that all vaccines that are licensed MUST go through these safety steps to be licensed. That means they are likely to be pretty safe when they become available. When rolling out to the general public, however, there is still a chance for some adverse reactions because trial participants are always young healthy adults. That is why Phase IV monitoring at the large scale is critical. 

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