75 COVID Vaccine Candidates – Winner Is?
The Largest Current Vaccine Trial
Thanks to recent developments in vaccine technology such as DNA and mRNA-based vaccines, several vaccines have been developed within hours or days of sequencing the virus responsible for COVID-19. However, despite rapid design of vaccines using these methods, the resulting product must still undergo rigorous testing. Even with relaxation of regulations, trials must still be carried out carefully, with sufficient numbers, and over a sufficient length of time to be certain of their safety and efficacy.
The largest trial currently underway is for the mRNA-based vaccine from BioNTech, a German biotech that specializes in individualized cancer therapeutics. The trial is being conducted in Maryland, New York, and Ohio, with 7,600 patients to be enrolled. Phase 2 data for the trial is expected by May 2021. BioNTech is partnered with Pfizer, Inc. and is expected to be capable of scaling up production into the hundreds of millions by the end of 2021.
One of the most advanced candidates is an mRNA-based vaccine from Moderna, Inc., a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company. Phase 2 data from Moderna’s candidate is expected in November 2020, and Phase 1 results are expected by the end of May. The FDA granted fast-track status to the Moderna candidate on May 12. Wells Fargo expects that the company, through its partnership with Lonza Ltd can produce up to 1 billion doses per year, assuming dosing at the lowest concentration being tested.
Another issue that Wells Fargo has pointed out is that all trials are currently being conducted with adults, meaning that current vaccines if and when approved may not include an indication for children, leaving the young unimmunized and potential carriers of the virus.