Moderna, Pfizer begin Covid-19 vaccine trials, eye year-end launches

Wednesday, 29 Jul, 2020

German biotech BioNTech and USA drugmaker Pfizer Inc have said that they would begin a pivotal global study to evaluate their lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Moderna: The company has launched a 30,000-subject trial for regulatory approval and widespread use by the end of the year.

Emergent BioSolutions said yesterday it signed a US$174 million agreement with AstraZeneca to develop and manufacture the British drugmaker's vaccine candidate.

Moderna said in a statement that it would be able to deliver about 500 million doses a year and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, starting in 2021.

Last Wednesday, the American-German BioNTech/Pfizer pharmaceutical alliance announced that the USA government had committed US$1.95 billion to procure 100 million doses of its eventual vaccine.

Stéphane Bancel, Moderna's chief executive, told CNBC that he estimated the vaccine had a 75% chance of meeting the US Food and Drug Administration's requirement of being 50% effective.

According to the researchers, the mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate will be tested at approximately 89 clinical research sites in the United States, 24 of which are part of the NIH Coronavirus Prevention Network (CoVPN). Recently, Tech Times learned the USA government has doubled its investment in Moderna's vaccine candidate and committed $472 million in support of the large trial. Fast-forward into July 27th, and the very first of several vaccines are beginning the clinical testing phase: the mRNA vaccine candidate of Moderna. "We're optimistic, cautiously optimistic", Moderna President Dr Stephen Hoge said. Its primary endpoints will be prevention of COVID-19 in those who have not been infected by SARS-CoV-2 prior to immunisation, and prevention of COVID-19 regardless of whether participants have previously been infected by SARS-CoV-2. The network is a part of "Operation Warp Speed", a partnership led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to invest in and coordinate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.

There's still no guarantee that the experimental vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna, will really protect the participants.

Moderna's vaccine is based on cutting-edge but unproven technology, which uses a strand of mRNA to instruct the patient's body to make copies of the "Spike" protein found on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19. These vaccines, though relatively new, immunize against viruses and can be manufactured quicker than traditional vaccines that trigger immune response by generally through dead viruses of the disease.