University of Oxford
Oxford University academics began developing the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine in January. It is now named AZD1222, after the researchers signed a manufacturing partnership with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
Human trials started on April 23 and they are now in the final phase, with trials being carried out in the UK, Brazil and South Africa.
Lead of the project Professor Sarah Gilbert told The Times she is ’80 per cent’ confident of its success.
The science behind Oxford’s vaccine attempt hinges on recreating the ‘spike’ proteins that are found all over the outside of the Covid-19 viruses.
It is made from a weakened version of an adenovirus from chimpanzees that has been genetically changed so it is impossible for it to grow in humans.
Imperial College London
Fifteen volunteers have already been given Imperial’s trial jab and testing is expected to ramp up to include as many as 200-300 participants in the coming weeks. A second trial, with 6,000 people, will come later.
But Professor Robin Shattock, lead researcher, said the vaccine won’t be available until at least 2021 even if everything goes according to plan.
If the jab works, the team want to make it as cheap as possible so the entire British population could be vaccinated for the ‘really good value’ of just under £200million.
Imperial’s vaccine also attempts to mimic the spikes on the outside of the Covid-19 virus. However, it will work by delivering genetic material (RNA) from the virus, which programs cells inside the patient’s body to recreate the spike proteins.
US drug giant Pfizer — famous for Viagra — and German firm BioNTech have been working on a number of potential Covid-19 vaccines under the ‘BNT162 program’.
It reported positive preliminary results from the ongoing Phase I/II clinical trial of one called BNT162b1 on July 1. Tests on 24 volunteers showed that it was well tolerated and produced dose dependent immunity.
Dr Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer’s head of vaccine research and development, said the vaccine ‘is able to produce neutralizing antibody responses in humans at or above the levels observed’ in Covid-19 survivors.
Pfizer received fast track designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for two of their four potential Covid-19 vaccines this month.
The vaccine is one which injects RNA – genetic material – which codes the body to produce proteins that look like the spike proteins that would be found on the outside of the real coronavirus.
French firm Valneva have yet to begin human trials of their Covid-19 vaccine, called VLA2001. Company bosses hope to scale up testing by the end of this year.
The jab is currently only in pre-clinical studies — meaning it is being tested in the lab and on animals.
If proven successful, the vaccine will be manufactured at its facilities in Livingston, Scotland and in Solna, Sweden.
Valneva’s jab is based on injecting people with dead versions of the coronavirus.
This is called an inactivated whole virus vaccine and works by injecting the virus itself but versions that have been damaged in a lab so that they cannot infect human cells. They can be damaged using heat, chemicals or radiation.
Even though the viruses are inactivated the body still recognises them as threats and mounts and immune response against them which can develop immunity.
Massachusetts-based Moderna was the first US company to start human trials of its potential Covid-19 vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, on March 16.
The jab has proven to trigger an immune response in all 45 injected volunteers, according to a study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine on July 14.
Moderna’s shot showed early promise in its phase 2 human tests last month. The company reported that it triggered antibody production on par with that seen in recovered coronavirus patients.
Chinese vaccine Ad5-nCoV, made by CanSino, was the very first shot to enter clinical trials earlier this year and is a leading candidate.
A trial of 108 healthy volunteers in China showed it safely triggered an immune response in participants.
Results published May 22 in The Lancet showed most of the people dosed with the vaccine had immune responses, although their levels of antibodies thought to neutralize the virus were relatively low. Researchers saw a stronger ramp-up of other immune compounds, called T-cells, that might also help fight the infection off.
Johnson & Johnson
The drug giant started work on the vaccine in January, two months before Covid-19 was labelled a global pandemic.
A vaccine trial spearheaded by Johnson and Johnson will start recruiting people in September, with clinical data available by the end of the year.
An ’emergency use’ batch of the vaccine is anticipated to be authorised as early as 2021, which would likely be prioritised for vulnerable people.
CureVac, a German company, secured permission last month to begin first phase clinical trials of its attempt at a coronavirus vaccine.
The vaccine, named CVnCoV, works by injected RNA designed to force the production of coronavirus-like proteins in the body and trigger an immune response.
The first trials will involved 168 people between the ages of 18 and 60 in Germany and Belgium.