Research laboratories and the pharmaceutical industry worldwide are seeking to quickly find vaccines and treatments for the emerging coronavirus, using a variety of different technologies. What are the most prominent companies currently competing to develop a Coronavirus vaccine?
The trial results on the Coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford in Britain and AstraZeneca showed that it safely induces a strong immune response in the elderly healthy, with the results of the second phase of the trial published Thursday 11/19.
The experimental vaccine has produced fewer side effects in people aged 56 and over compared to younger people – an important finding given that COVID-19 disproportionately causes severe symptoms among the elderly. The manufacturers said the vaccine is undergoing broader and more comprehensive Phase-III trials to confirm the results. Immune responses caused by vaccines tend to decline as people age, as the immune system gradually slows down with age. This makes the elderly more susceptible to a variety of
Pfizer and BioNtech
Pfizer Director-General Albert Bourla announced Tuesday 11/17 that the US pharmaceutical group would apply “very soon” for a license to market its Covid-19 vaccine in the United States, which will allow, if all goes well, to start vaccinations during December December.
“We are very close to submitting an emergency license application,” Burla said at a conference organized by the State news website. Pfizer’s general manager did not confirm or deny whether the application would be submitted this week, noting that he had previously said that the application would likely be submitted in the third week of November, that is, this week. Pfizer developed this experimental vaccine in cooperation with the German company BioNtech.
The developer said the vaccine in its first announcement that it is more than 90% effective before it came out with another statement just days later to say that the vaccine is more than 90% effective according to the latest results, and this coincides with the announcement by Moderna.
Within weeks of Chinese researchers uncovering the virus genome to the public, a team from the University of Texas at Austin managed to create a replica of its malignant protein, which is the part that clings to human cells and damages them and images them using a cooled electron microscope.
This model now forms the basis for a potential vaccine because it may provoke an immune response in the human body without harming the classic method for developing vaccines based on principles dating back to the smallpox vaccine in 1796.
The National Institutes of Health is working with Moderna, a relatively new company launched in 2010, to create a vaccine using the protein’s genetic information to grow it into human muscle tissue rather than inject it into it.
This information is stored in a transient intermediate material called “RNA Messenger” that transports the genetic code from DNA to cells.
The first human vaccine trial began on March 16 after it had proven effective in mice.
If all goes well, the vaccine may be available in the market within about a year and a half and ready if the outbreak of the Coronavirus continues until the next flu season, according to Fauci.
Last year, Regeneron developed an intravenous drug that showed a significant increase in survival rates among people with the Ebola virus, using so-called “monoclonal antibiotics.”
To do this, scientists genetically modified mice to give them immune systems similar to humans. The mice were exposed to viruses or to mitigated forms to produce human antibiotics, said Christos Kyratsous, vice president of research at the company, told AFP.
These antibiotics are isolated and tested to find the most effective ones. They are cultured in laboratories, purified, and given to humans intravenously.
“If everything goes as planned, we should know what are the best antibiotics in the next few weeks,” with the start of human trials in the summer, Christos Kyratsous said.
And the drug can work as a treatment and a vaccine if people are given before exposure to the virus, although its effect will be temporary.
In the near term, the company is also trying to use its own drugs for other purposes using the same platform called “Kevzara,” which is approved for treating arthritis.
This can help fight acute pneumonia caused by the Covid 19 epidemic; in other words, it may fight one of the symptoms instead of fighting the virus.
Sanofi is collaborating with the United States government to use a so-called “recombinant DNA platform” to produce a potential vaccine.
This method allows taking the virus’s DNA and combining it with the DNA of a harmless virus, which causes an illusion that may provoke an immune response, and the antigens it produces can then be increased.
This technology is the basis for the influenza vaccine that Sanofi has developed. It is believed that it is well-positioned in this race because of the SARS vaccine it has devised that provided partial protection in animals.
David Lowe, head of the company’s vaccine development division, said Sanofi expects to have a potential vaccine ready for laboratory testing within six months and clinical testing within a year and a half.
Inovio Pharmaceutical Company
Inovio, another US pharmaceutical company, has worked since its founding in the 1980s on DNA vaccines that work in a similar way to RNA vaccines but operate in an earlier link in the chain.
By way of comparison, DNA can be thought of as a reference book in a library, while RNA is like a copy of a page from this book that contains instructions for doing a task.
“We plan to start human clinical trials in the United States in April and shortly thereafter in China and South Korea, where the virus outbreak affects a large proportion of people,” said J. Joseph Kim, the company’s president, and CEO, in a statement.
“We are planning to provide one million doses by the end of the year, with the current resources and capabilities that we have,” he added.
Gilead Science Company
Of all the drugs related to the virus that causes the Covid 19 epidemic, the Remdesivir vaccine made by the American science company Gilead may be the closest to being put on the market. It is not new but rather was developed to fight other viruses, including Ebola (it is ineffective), and has not yet been approved for any epidemic.
However, according to doctors, it has shown early promising results in treating some emerging coronavirus patients in China. The company is moving forward with final clinical trials in Asia (known as “Phase 3”). It has also been used to treat at least one US patient so far.
Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health and one of the top government scientists overseeing the Coronavirus response said it might be available in “the next few months.”
“There is only one drug that we think may have real effectiveness, and that is Remdesivir,” said Bruce Aylward, a WHO official, during a recent press conference in China.
Remdesivir changes inside the human body to become similar to one of the four DNA blocks called nucleotides.
Newman told Agence France-Presse that when viruses copy themselves, they do so “quickly and randomly,” which means that they may integrate this vaccine into their structure, knowing that human cells that are more rapid do not make the same mistake.
If the virus combines with the vaccine, the drug adds mutations that can eliminate the virus.
Another remarkable effort
British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has teamed up with a Chinese biotech company to provide an adjunct treatment technology.
An adjunctive treatment is added to some vaccines to enhance the immune response and provide stronger and longer-lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone.
Like Moderna, CureVac is working with the University of Queensland on an RNA vaccine. The company’s CEO, Daniel Menichella, met White House officials earlier this month and announced that the company expects to produce a vaccine prototype within a few months.
The American pharmaceutical company “Johnson & Johnson” is looking at using some of its drugs other than their primary purpose to treat the symptoms of patients infected with Coronavirus.
California-based biotech company Veer has isolated antibiotics from survivors of the SARS virus and is looking to see whether they can treat the emerging coronavirus.