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Which Are the Top Coronavirus Vaccine Candidates Around the World?

Jul 6, 2020 1:14 PM 3 min read

Recently, in a letter to hospitals, the Director of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) reportedly said that he envisaged the “launch” of a novel coronavirus vaccine for “public health use latest by August 15th”.

While the tight timeline drew sharp criticism from the scientific community, who called it unrealistic and reckless, let’s use this opportunity to touch back on where we stand right now when it comes to developing a coronavirus vaccine.

What are the Different Stages of Vaccine Development?

There are six main steps in vaccine development. Each of them has been described in the chart below:


As we already know, vaccine development is a long, complicated and costly process. The HIV/AIDS vaccine is still in Stage 3 of clinical trials - and the AIDS pandemic has been active for three decades now.

The quickest we’ve gotten to a vaccine was with the one for mumps, and even that took four years.

The reason vaccines take years to develop isn’t because finding the right candidate takes time but because the testing and regulatory process is a long-drawn one.

However, considering the emergency situation the world is confronting right now, the vaccine development process for SARS-CoV-2 has been expedited across countries.


Which are the Main Vaccine Candidates Currently in Trial?

As of July 2nd, there were 18 vaccine candidates in clinical evaluation, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and several more in the pre-clinical stage.

Besides vaccines, antivirals (Remdesivir, Arbidol, EIDD-2801, Favipiravir, Kaletra and Merimepodib), monoclonal antibodies, convalescent plasma, immune modulators, stem cells, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are also being considered.

The “top” vaccine candidates presently are:


BTW: We have earlier discussed each of these candidates in detail in our piece on COVID-19 vaccine candidates.


India’s Coronavirus Vaccine Candidates

All in all, there are seven Indian firms working on a COVID-19 vaccine. As of today (July 4th), two domestic vaccine candidates have received approval for human trials.

  1. Covaxin: Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine was approved for human trials on June 29th. The candidate, Covaxin, was developed along with the ICMR’s National Institute of Virology. Trials are scheduled to begin in July.
  2. ZyCov-D: Days after Bharat Biotech got the nod for clinical trials, Ahmedabad-based pharmaceutical firm Zydus Cadila got approval to move ahead to human trials for its candidate, ZyCov-D.

Besides drug research and development, India is expected to play a vital role in the vaccine distribution process, being one of the largest producers of generic drugs and vaccines and home to the world’s largest vaccine maker by number of doses produced and sold globally. 

The CEO of this vaccine maker i.e. Adar Poonawalla of the Serum Institute of India, in a recent interview said that he expects AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to be available towards the end of this year.

Serum would mass produce AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine if approved. 

Mr. Poonawalla also said:

While all of us are in a race against time, there is no contention amongst companies. Whosoever makes and develops the vaccine will need multiple partners to manufacture the vaccine. I hope that whichever company develops the vaccine does not hide behind patents and makes it available based on royalties or a commercial understanding to manufacturers across the world to make billions of dosages at a fast pace.

Amen to that!


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