Coronavirus crisis | These four COVID-19 vaccines are ahead
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Coronavirus crisis | These four COVID-19 vaccines are ahead of the pack

 May 10, 2020 03:15 PM IST

By Viswanath Pilla

Over 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines are currently under development, but four are ahead of the pack.

The race to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 is intensifying globally.

Over 100 potential coronavirus vaccines are currently under development, but four vaccines are ahead of the pack. Here are the frontrunners:

Oxford University vaccine

One of the potential vaccines against COVID-19 is also known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. It was developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, at the University of Oxford.

The vaccine uses weakened version of chimpanzee adenovirus as vector, infused with the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Adenovirus causes common cold. After vaccination, the SARS-CoV-2 surface spike protein is produced, which alerts the immune system to attack COVID-19.

University of Oxford has been working on vaccines on MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), diseases which are caused by coronaviruses. So, it immediately jumped into the fray to develop a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it saw the outbreak. This gave it a lead time over other vaccine makers.

It entered phase-1 clinical trials last week to study safety and efficacy in healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years, across five trial centres in Southern England. The phase-1 data will be out this month, which will be followed by phase-2 and 3 trials. These will involve larger number of volunteers to determine the vaccine’s efficacy.

The Serum Institute of India has been closely working with University of Oxford. Serum will manufacture the vaccine and if everything goes as per the plan, they may bring out the vaccine by October.

Moderna RNA vaccine

The Massachusetts-based biotech company Moderna’s vaccine candidate is cruising ahead of the original schedule. The Moderna vaccine is based on a novel approach, wherein the company injects the specially designed messenger RNA (genetic material) produces viral protein or antigen. The antigen provokes the immune system, thereby helping the body to defend itself against COVID-19.

The company has been doing phase-1 trails and has received the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) nod to begin phase-2. Moderna also plans to begin phase-3 by this summer. The vaccine is easy to manufacture, but could be expensive and supplies will be tightly controlled by US government.

Moderna has raised plenty of money, with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of the US government recently giving it around $483 million.
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