Latest developments in coronavirus vaccine research

Scientists and health officials are working 24/7 to provide an exit strategy to the coronavirus pandemic through the development of an effective vaccine. There is no known scientific cure for COVID-19. As of June 2, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed 10 vaccine candidates under clinical evaluation, with 123 candidates in preclinical evaluation.

A vaccine stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies, just as if you were exposed to the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is important to distinguish the following COVID-19 vaccine candidates apart from other attempted interim treatment options like remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, tocilizumab, and convalescent plasma transfusions, to name a few.

The following list does not include all vaccine candidates being researched, just those with recent developments of note.


Massachusetts-based biotech company Moderna and its mRNA-1273 vaccine are in a Phase 2 study, and on May 29 the first participants in each age cohort were dosed with the vaccine. Moderna is finalizing its protocol for the Phase 3 study, with an expected start in July 2020.

The company announced “positive” data late last month that its potential COVID-19 vaccine produced antibodies in all 45 participants in a Phase 1 study led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


The biotech Novavax, headquarted in Maryland, enrolled participants into a Phase I/II clinical trial on May 25 for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373. The company expects preliminary results from the Phase 1 portion of the trial in July 2020.

BioNTech, Pfizer

The first U.S. participants in the Phase I/II clinical trial for the BNT162 vaccine program were dosed on May 5 at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and University of Maryland School of Medicine.


Philadelphia-based pharmaceutical company INOVIO on June 4 announced a partnership with the International Vaccine Institute and Seoul National University Hospital to start a Phase I/II clinical trial of INOVIO’s COVID-19 vaccine, INO-4800, in South Korea. Officials plan to start the trial later in June.

INOVIO plans to announce its Phase I results from a U.S. trial in June, and expects to begin the Phase II/III trial in mid-summer. In the meantime, INOVIO continues to scale up INO-4800 vaccine production, with plans to have 1 million doses by the end of 2020.


Researchers at the University of Oxford, in collaboration with AstraZeneca, hope to have the first Phase 3 data in hand this summer, according to a report in The Lancet. Development status is listed at Phase 2b/3 for the potential coronavirus vaccine, AZD1222.

AstraZeneca recently reached a $750 million agreement with CEPI and Gavi to support the manufacturing, procurement and distribution of 300 million vaccine doses, with delivery starting by the year’s end. The company will also supply 1 billion doses for low-and-middle-income countries and committed to provide 400 million doses before the end of 2020, per a newly announced licensing agreement with the Serum Institute of India.

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