The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is a global alliance financing and coordinating the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases. Headquartered in Oslo, Norway, CEPI is considered as a global leader in developing vaccines.
According to an article published by CEPI in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery on April 9, 2020, the first COVID-19 vaccine candidate entered human clinical testing on March 16, 2020. This is the first time in history when clinical testing started only in two months of knowing the genetic sequence of a virus or bacteria. It indicates the extent of the global impact of COVID-19 that led to the acceleration of all vaccine studies. World Health Organization provides authoritative continually updated list of vaccine development programmes at the below link.
As of April 8, 2020, 115 COVID-19 vaccine candidates were identified. 78 were confirmed as active and 37 were unconfirmed as development status could not be determined from available sources. Among 78 vaccine candidates, 73 are currently at early stages – exploratory and preclinical stages. The rest of 5 vaccine candidates moved into clinical development phase.
It is interesting to note that a wide range of technology platforms are being utilized by the vaccine candidates. Several large pharmaceutical companies are involved in the development of COVID-19 vaccine. 72% of the confirmed vaccine candidates are being developed by the private companies, while 28% are led by the public sector. 46% of the confirmed vaccine candidates are being developed in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is also taking steps to speed the development and manufacturing of vaccines to prevent COVID-19. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of HHS, supports clinical trials of vaccines. BARDA is working in conjunction with Janssen Research and Development to begin Phase 1 clinical trial with the goal of making COVID-19 vaccine available for emergency use in the US in early 2021. BARDA works with FDA to deliver a safe and effective vaccine as quickly as possible.
Considering the history of development of vaccines, delivering COVID-19 vaccine by early 2021 is considered as highly ambitious. Given the global impact of COVID-19, with the emergency protocols in place, all the organizations continue to strive to produce a vaccine sooner than later.
Tung Thanh Le et al. The COVID-19 vaccine development landscape. Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. April 9. doi: 10.1038/d41573-020-00073-5