As the world struggles with never-ending COVID-19 waves driven by newer variants as well as shortage of vaccine doses, pharma companies are developing vaccines that are easier to administer, store and transport. The next generation of vaccines in development could come as a pill or a nasal spray, in addition to the shots that dominate vaccination coverage in the world.
Waning immunity over time is a challenge, and newer vaccines hope to ensure that protective antibodies stay on in the human body for long.
There are about 82 global vaccine manufacturers competing to launch their vaccines. In India alone, there are five potential COVID-19 vaccines undergoing clinical trials, while worldwide, pharma companies like Sanofi and GSK, Novavax, CureVac and Valneva are attempting to make far more efficient vaccines that can combat a range of mutations and variants.
Novavax is expected to overtake Moderna to become the second-largest vaccine maker in terms of revenues by 2022. Novavax is making a protein-based vaccine engineered from the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2. A report by the company said its UK trial achieved an efficacy rate of 96 percent against the original coronavirus and 86 percent against the UK variant. Volunteers in South Africa who were exposed to variant B.1.351 showed an efficacy rate of 49 percent, prompting the company to develop a new version tailor-made for the South Africa variant.
Cuba’s Abdala, developed by Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB), is a protein vaccine that uses yeast as a receptor-binding domain (RBD) protein and alumina as an adjuvant. This vaccine is to be administered three times at 14-day intervals.
Medicago is an adjuvant vaccine that uses plant as the base. This approach uses living plants as bioreactors to produce non-infectious versions of viruses. When tested on mice, a single dose of VIR-7831 generated a positive antibody response in just 10 days.
CureVac’s CVnCoV is an mRNA-based vaccine developed in collaboration with British pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Bayer. In February 2021, CureVac initiated a rolling submission with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for CVnCoV after its clinical trials in other European countries and Mexico.
In Australia-based Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, they are testing bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) tuberculosis vaccine and exploring if it also protects against the coronavirus. Clinical trials are being run in Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
There are many other frontrunners worldwide like Vaxxinity, ImmunityBio and Inovio Pharmaceuticals. All of them are in either phase 2 or phase 3 of their clinical trials and are expected to launch shortly.
Here are some of the Indian vaccine developers.
Ahmedabad-based Cadila Healthcare’s ZyCoV-D is currently in phase-3 trials. India may become the first country in the world to develop a DNA-based vaccine. Currently, the company has applied for emergency use authorisation (EUA) for ZyCoV-D. It is a three-dose COVID-19 shot. ZyCoV-D can be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius for the long term and at 25 degrees Celsius for a few months and is administered via needle free injection system (NFIS).
Hyderabad-based Biological E vaccine is conducting the third phase trial of its Corbevax, which is an adjuvant protein subunit vaccine. Once approved, it will manufacture 7.5 crore doses between September and October of this year.
Bharat Biotech’s Nasal Vaccine
Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, which has developed Covaxin, will introduce its adeno-intranasal vaccines. Currently, it is in the phase three clinical trials.
Gennova mRNA-vaccine candidate is in phase-1 clinical trial as of now.
Genique Life Sciences
Gurugram-based Genique Life Sciences is in the advanced pre-clinical stage.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)
First Published: IST