【Vaccine Development】Rapid R&D: Global development of COVID-19 vaccine

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 ▲Example of vaccine injection (sources: Freepik)


Since the coronavirus outbreak in January, researchers around the world have been working on developing medicines and vaccines to combat the virus. With strong collaboration and hard work of scientists worldwide, the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was published in early January right after the outbreak. This helps researchers to better understand the virus, hence find the cure for it. In a paper published in Nature Review Drug Discovery, the research team from Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) provides insightful analysis and review of the current R&D development of COVID-19 vaccine.

As of April 8, the research team has collected vaccine development information indicating that there are currently 115 candidate vaccines, of which 78 of them are proven to be active and 37 remained unconfirmed. 

Meanwhile, among the 78 active vaccines, 73 vaccines are at preclinical stages and five vaccines are at the stage of clinical development, including mRNA-1273 from Moderna, Ad5-nCoV from CanSino Biologicals, INO-4800 from Inovio, LV-SMENP-DC and pathogen-specific aAPC from Shenzhen Geno-Immune Medical Institute.

The CEPI research team is able to categorize current vaccine R&D technology platforms being used, including nucleic acid (DNA and RNA), virus-like particle, peptide, viral vector (replicating and non-replicating), recombinant protein, live attenuated virus and inactivated virus approaches. The mRNA-1273 vaccine mentioned earlier is based on the technology of nucleic acid, which stimulates immune reaction by injecting virus mRNA into human bodies.

Apart from the vaccine types and R&D status, CEPI also analyzed countries that contribute to vaccine R&D and found that the majority of labs are from North America (46%), and the second are China, Australia, and Europe (each with 18% of total amount). As conclusion, the team pointed out that the close international collaboration between vaccine developer, government, and public health system is key to the sufficiency and scale for vaccine R&D when facing the novel coronavirus.

Le, T.T., Andreadakis, Z., Kumar, A., et al. (2020) The COVID-19 vaccine development landscape. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. 09 April. Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41573-020-00073-5 [Accessed 17 April 2020]


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