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May 12, 2020

We’re looking optimistically to the future today and talking about the development of potential vaccines for COVID. All the information below has been amalgamated from the review pieces cited.


Vaccine development landscape

  • Researchers across the country are devoting huge amounts of time and energy to the development of a coronavirus vaccine
  • Currently there are 115 vaccine candidates
    • 78 are confirmed active trials
      • Majority (73) are in exploratory or pre-clinical testing phase
      • First vaccine candidate entered human testing on March 16 2020
    • Majority are in the private/industrial sector (>70%)
  • Many different vaccine types are being investigated, each with advantages and disadvantages
    • mRNA, DNA, viral vector, live attenuated virus, inactivated virus, peptide-based, recombinant protein, etc
    • Trials of vaccine adjuvants are also underway
  • Current phase 1 clinical trials
    • Moderna: mRNA vaccine
    • CanSino Biologicals: recombinant protein
    • Inovio Pharmaceuticals: DNA vaccine
    • Shenzhen Geno-Immune Medical Institute: viral vector (2)


Vaccine safety

  • Vaccine safety remains to be a major consideration
    • This is a new viral target with some novel vaccine technology and developmental paradigms
    • There were documented adverse vaccine responses with SARS (ADE)
      • Some concerns in particular about liver damage
    • To combat this, rigorous animal model safety assessment is being undertaken
      • Mouse and macaques (monkeys) have proven to be reliable models for vaccine study
    • Mutations?
      • The virus may mutate and necessitate vaccine reformulations; however, this would be a much shorter process (similar to the yearly flu vaccine)
      • Some research is also underway to create a pan-coronavirus vaccine



  • Timeline for completion of the clinical trials varies from 2021 to 2023 and beyond
  • The most optimistic estimates are that a vaccine may be ready by early 2021
    • That does not account for the time it would take to mass-produce the vaccine; nor for any hiccups along the way!!


Global perspective

  • Moving forward, there is also a need to ensure that vaccines will be manufactured in sufficient quantities and equitably supplied to all affected areas, particularly low-resourced



  1. Le T, Andreadakis Z, Kumar A et al. The COVID-19 vaccine development landscape. Nature Reviews, April 2020. doi:10.1038/d41573-020-00073-5


  1. Zhang J, Zeng H, Gu J et al. Progress and Prospects on Vaccine Development against SARS-CoV-2. Vaccines,2020, 8(2), 153. doi:10.3390/vaccines8020153


  1. Weber B. A look at research being done in Canada for a coronavirus vaccine. Global News, Mar 30 2020.