Current Clinical Trials of Coronavirus Vaccines
1. Etherington, D. (2020, April 6). A Second Potential Covid-19 Vaccine, Backed By Bill and Melinda Gates, Is Entering Human Testing. TechCrunch.
2. Sheikh, K., Thomas, K. (2020, April 8). More Coronavirus Vaccines and Treatments Move Toward Human Trials. New York Times.
3. Mandavilli, A., Thomas, K. (2020, April 10). Will an Antibody Test Allow Us To Go Back To School or Work? New York Times.
4. Grady, D. (2020, March 16). Trial Of Coronavirus Vaccine Made By Moderna Begins in Seattle. New York Times.
Review written by:
Anna Huang, edited by Jingwen Zhang
The first clinical trials in healthy human subjects for a COVID-19 vaccine, conducted by Moderna Therapeutics, began on March 16, 2020. The basis for Moderna’s vaccine is to inject mRNA plasmids into cells, creating antibodies to attack the virus. Inovio Pharmaceuticals also began human trials on April 6 for their vaccine, which uses DNA plasmids to produce antibodies that will neutralize the virus. Even animal trials for both vaccines have shown promising results, there’s currently no approval from the FDA. Some other companies have taken different approaches; Novavax, for example, is using recombinant technology to recreate a weaker version of the virus to stimulate the body’s natural antibody response and plans to initiate human trials mid-May.
While clinical trials are underway, the final vaccines for use in the general population are likely at least 1 year away, since their long-term safety and efficacy in healthy subjects must first be assessed before widespread use. These trials will also determine dosing to ensure that the vaccine does not actually enhance the disease, which was previously observed in animal trials for SARS and MERS vaccines.
The CDC has also announced that it will begin antibody testing for as many people as possible to identify which individuals have been previously infected and are currently immune. This may help determine who will be able to return to work, and when. These tests look for the presence of coronavirus antibodies from a previous infection to understand the prevalence of the disease; they are not designed for diagnosing early infections. Many companies have begun distributing these antibody tests throughout the nation, though the rate of false negative and positive results are high.