Progress of Covid-19 Vaccines
Over the last few weeks, several vaccines that started their journey to become effective immunisations at the beginning of 2020, announced positive results towards the completion of their phase 3 trials. It is hoped that the world is not too far away from these vaccines being mass produced and rolled out to to start immunising populations across the world.
Here is a run down of where the current front runners are in terms of their efficacy towards the Covid-19 strain of Coronavirus, their ease of transporation and when they are likely to be available to the general public.
Pfizer / BioNTech
The most recent update from the company, released this Wednesday (18th November 2020) states that their final analysis of their phase 3 trial shows it was 95% effective in preventing infections, even in older adults and caused no serious safety concerns.
From 170 cases of coronavirus infection among volunteers who took part in the trial, 162 infections were in people who got the placebo or plain saline shots, while eight cases were in participants who got the actual vaccine. That works out to an efficacy of 95%, Pfizer have said.
The company has said that on current projections they expect to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion does in 2021.
One logistics issue that they will have to overcome is that the vaccine must be kept at minus 75 degrees Celsius, or minus 103 degrees Fahrenheit - far below the capability of standard freezers.
AstraZeneca / University of Oxford
The University of Oxford released results from a large trial of their phase 3 testing on the 23rd November 2020. The results demonstrated 70% protection for participants, through taking a large dose followed by a further large dose later. This is a lower figure of protection than some of the alternative vaccines being developed, however the jab developed by Oxford is cheaper and easier to store at just refrigerated temperatures and it will be more effective to get it delivered and utilised in poorer parts of the world because of this.
Interestingly, when a low dose followed by a high dose was administered to the participants, the effectiveness rate was nearer to 90%. There is no immediate explanation for why that is, but it is expected that further research will be undertaken. If this remains the case this would actually be incredibly positive news in the short term as the manufactured amounts of the vaccine would stretch further as less would be used per person.
There were also lower levels of asymptomatic infection in the low-followed-by-high-dose group which means "we might be able to halt the virus in it's tracks" Prof Andrew Pollard said.
The UK Government has pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine and it's partner AstraZenca states that it will make three billion doses for the world throughout 2021.
Moderna completed their trial which involved 30,000 people in the US. Half of the volunteers were given two doses of the vaccine which were four weeks apart.
The analysis from their press release comes from the first 95 in the group to develop Covid-19 symptoms. Only five of the Covid cases were people that were given the vaccine. 90 were in the group given the dummy treatment which the company suggests means 94.5% of people are protected by taking the shots.
Their data also showed that there were unfortunately 11 cases of severe Covid in the trial, but none of them happened in people who had been immunised.
Moderna will now apply to regulators in the US in the coming weeks. The company hopes to have up to one billion doses available for use around the world next year and is planning to seek approval in other countries also.
Moderna''s vaccine also benefits from the fact that it doesn't need to be stored at ultra cold temperatures and standard refrigeration should be appropriate for up to a month.
Johnson & Johnson
The main difference between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and a large number of the alternative vaccines is that it only requires a single dose jab.
The lead scientist at Johnson & Johnson, Dr. Paul Stoffels, says he expects the company to have all the data required to file for authorisation for the single shot coronavirus by February. He also expects to have 60,000 people enrolled in a late-stage trial, named ENSEMBLE by the end of the year. As a result of that trial the company hopes to have the efficacy established in the first weeks or months of next year.
The Johnson & Johnson trials were paused for a period due to the evaluation of a serious medical event experienced by one study participant, although no clear cause has been identified. Based on the information gathered to date and the input of independent experts, the Company says it has "found no evidence that the vaccine candidate caused the event".
Sanofi is the one of the five we have selected to look into which is yet to move into their Phase 3 trials. The results of their Phase 2 tests, involving hundreds of people will be made public in early December. If those results are positive then the Phase 3 trials involving thousands of people will begin alongside mass production.
Sanofi also recently announced that the vaccine they are developing won't need to be supercooled and a normal refrigerator will suffice for storage and transportation. The comments from Sanofi came days off the back of Pfizer and it's German partner BioNTech announcing the results of their successful phase 3 results thus far.
According to their Chief Executive, Olivier Bogillot, the vaccine will be available for distribution next June. He stated that while the Pfizer vaccine was a "little more advanced" in the development process, "one laboratory is not going to be able to supply the doses for the whole planet".
"We will need to have several winners at the end of this race."
The Sanofi product will also be made available at an "affordable" price he said, without giving further details.
ProTech Recruitment are a specialist Life Sciences, Medical Devices, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical industry recruiter. If you are looking to find the best available STEM talent to join your organisation, don't hesitate to give us a call on 01442 299060 to discuss your options now or email us at email@example.com
ProTech - Where the most exciting opportunities meet the best talent.