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All the companies working on a COVID-19 vaccine and what we know about them so far

All the companies working on a COVID-19 vaccine and what we know about them so far

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On Monday, for the first time since the pandemic started, a human trial of a potential vaccine to COVID-19 was carried out in a medical centre in Seattle. The vaccine was developed by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Moderna. 

What we know about Moderna

Moderna is possibly the first biotech unicorn, and in 2018 was valued at 7.5 billion US dollars. According to this fortune magazine article in 2015, the company’s core technology is designed to help people make medicines within their own cells, rather than create something in a lab which patients need to ingest or inject which is how other biotech companies operate. The idea is for the patients to heal themselves. The writer claims that this would make Moderna’s products significantly faster to test and cheaper to buy.

When will Moderna introduce the COVID-19 vaccine?

If all requirements are met, the Vaccine could be made available by this time next year.

Moderna definitely has got some tough competition.

Arcturus Therapeutics

Another U.S based biotech company  claims that they have actually identified a vaccine and is now in the process of manufacturing it. Guess what, they also claim their method is much faster!

What’s Different?

Their approach is self-replicating RNA, where they would inject a very minute amount into your arm and it would create the antigen for a few weeks and would continue to do so itself. The amount of vaccine they’re aiming to use is a dose in micrograms so their vaccine is available to the largest population. The CEO, Joseph Payne says, this is something that sets them apart from their competition.

Arrival of the vaccine

Sometime next year, if we’re lucky

Kamada

Israel based biopharmaceutical company Kamada is developing a blood-plasma derived treatment against the coronavirus. 

“The concept that we are developing is not new. People that are exposed to a virus develop antibodies for that virus….If patients who have recovered from the disease and are in convalescence donate plasma, there is a very good likelihood that in that plasma there are going to be antibodies.” The CEO of Kamada told the Jerusalem based publication. 

Arrival of the vaccine

Since the treatment Kamada is working on is supposed to serve severely ill patients, the process to develop it does not require a complete clinical trial as is the case with a new drug – and therefore, it might be expedited. That being said, we don’t have an official timeline by Kamada as yet. 

China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences

The Chinese government  has given the go-ahead for researchers to begin human safety tests of an experimental coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine has been created by Researchers at China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences who are also closely affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)

Arrival of the vaccine

Chinese clinical trial registration database shows that the Phase one will test 108 healthy people between March 16 and Dec. 31. It too, will most likely arrive next year. 

Experts at the World Health Organization say they do not expect any fully-tested and approved vaccine to reach the market until the middle of next year.

Other Notable Players:

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, say the key to slowing and treating the coronavirus might just be hidden in the blood of those who’ve already recovered from the disease. Now they are actively pushing to test this theory out. 

A Netherland based publication has reported on a team of scientific researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam that claim to have discovered an antibody capable of fending off an infection by the Covid-19 variant of coronavirus. If proven true, The antibody could lead to an antiviral medication, and the ability for people to test themselves at home for the presence of the virus.

Bottom Line

There are currently more than 35 companies and academic institutions which are racing to create a vaccine or a cure. According to experts at WHO, at best the earliest vaccine would be available by next year. Moderna, having had the first human trials, seems to be leading the pack at the moment. 

For now though, our best bet still is still to keeps our hands clean and most importantly to ourselves (not the face, never the face dammit!)

Also read: In pictures: World’s first human trial of a COVID-19 vaccine

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