Coronavirus vaccines enter human trials: An overview of where we stand

In the battle of humanity against the novel Coronavirus, vaccines have become a holy grail. The only method of threat posed by the current pandemic is if the human population develops immunity to novel coronaviruses. This immunity can either be achieved naturally, requiring the virus to infect a large portion of the global population, or be induced with the help of vaccination programs worldwide.

Coronavirus vaccines enter human trials: An overview of where we stand

The first option is to provoke novel coronoviruses to run their course and can have disastrous consequences. This is why the second option is our best - and, perhaps, only - condition against a rapidly spreading virus. And, there is hope.

The remarkable speed of the novel coronavirus corresponds to an equally rapid progress made in science. It has been just a few months since novel coronaviruses appeared in humans, and scientists have already been able to initiate projects to identify and develop vaccines to prevent the worldwide march of the virus.

According to the World Health Organization's global database of research into novel coronaviruses, seven vaccine candidates are currently being tried on humans. In this report, we take a look at those possibilities (with a special mention for the efforts being made in India) and give you a brief overview of the race to develop a novel coronavirus vaccine.

A word about timelines before we come to the fore: Vaccine research is a lengthy process that typically involves clinical, or human, testing in at least three stages. An experimental vaccine is being administered at every stage, with the ultimate goal of testing for safety, side effects, and of course the ability to induce immunity. This may take up to a decade.

However, the unprecedented nature of the current crisis has forced scientists to take 'shortcuts' while developing vaccines for novel coronaviruses. This means that the timelines mentioned in this article, which are based on the respective researchers' own projections, are optimistic and should be read with a pinch of salt.

lets start.


A joint effort by Ad5-nCoV, a branch of Chinese biotech firm Canino Biologics and the People's Liberation Army, was the first novel coronavirus vaccine to enter human trials. . Ad5-nCoV is currently in Phase II clinical trials and is the furthest in research for vaccines against novel coronaviruses.

The vaccine uses a harmless virus known as adenovirus that transports the DNA of the 'spike protein' (see picture) present on the surface of the novel coronavirus. Once in the body, the DNA present in the vaccine results in the production of these spike proteins.

The idea that these spike proteins would activate the immune system would lead it to produce pathogen-fighting antibodies that could take on a real novel coronavirus infection in the future.

Timeline: Phase II trials of Ad5-nCoV are expected to last six months. The final word on the efficacy of the Ad5-nCoV vaccine and its potential use in the real world is expected early next year.


Developed by British scientists, ChAdOx1 is similar to Chinese Ad5-nCoV in terms of the technique used to induce immunity. SHOT is currently in joint phase I / II clinical trials aimed at testing the vaccine's efficacy and safety.

The scientists at Oxford University behind ChAdOx1 are so confident that they risked ordering mass production of the vaccine. With the help of several manufacturers - including the India-based Serum Institute of India - researchers plan to produce a million doses by September, if clinical trials produce negative results the dose will go waste.

Conceptually, ChAdOx1 is similar to the Chinese Ad5-nCoV. The British vaccine uses a harmless virus to introduce genes that produce novel coronavirus spike proteins inside the human body. This forces the immune system to form cells that inactivate spike proteins - a capability that will protect against future novel coronovirus infections.

Timeline: A full clinical trial of ChAdOx1 is expected to be completed by May next year. However, the researchers behind the vaccine are expected to approve earlier "emergency" use, based on the preliminary results of their tests. We should know more about the possible use of ChAdOx1 in the next few months.


Developed by US biotech firm Innovio Pharmaceuticals, INO-4800 is currently in Phase I clinical trials. The INO-4800 is the epicenter of the Alliance for Global Vaccine Research Alliance, established by the governments of India and Norway, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.

The INO-4800 is based on a relatively new vaccine technique of obtaining the body's own cells to produce novel coronavirus fragments. This is done by 'injecting' DNA into the body. The injected DNA contains the genetic code for, you guessed it, the spike protein of the novel coronavirus. The genetic code, it is hoped, will be read by the cells of the body to produce those spike proteins, which activate the immune system.

Timeline: Phase I trials of the INO-4800 are expected to be fully completed in the first half of 2021, according to the company's research inventory.

Joint number

A traditional vaccine that uses a 'dead' version of the novel coronavirus and developed by a state-run Chinese pharma firm that allegedly entered trial in late April II. The vaccine is listed in the World Health Organization database but is relatively unknowingly outside the Chinese media.

According to the news agency Xinhua, the vaccine uses 'inactive' novel coronavirus cells to induce immunity. Basically, the vaccine is made up of novel coronovirus cells that are treated in laboratories so that there is no harm to the body. Once in the body, weakened virus cells will be identified by the immune system, which then produces antibodies that can destroy novel coronoviruses.

Timeline: According to Chinese media reports, the vaccine is currently in Phase II clinical trials and is on track to enter Phase III. According to Xinhua, the overall development of the vaccine may take up to a year.


Another Chinese candidate, PiCoVacc is an inactivated vaccine developed by private biopharma company Synovac. The vaccine, which is currently in combined phase I / II trials, aims to evoke an immune response by exposing the body of novel coronaviruses to 'inactive' cells.


Developed by the ten-year-old American biotech firm Modern, mRNA-1273 is based on a radical - and therefore, largely untapped - approach to vaccination that is similar to the concept of a DNA vaccine such as INO-4800.

mRNA-1273 relies on 'information molecules' to direct the cells of the human body on how to construct a part of the novel coronavirus. These instructions are given by molecules known as messenger RNA or mRNA, which are injected into the human body.

In the case of mRNA-1273, the molecules contain information on the formation and production of 'spike proteins' of novel coronaviruses. These spikes would, theoretically, evoke a response from the immune system that could protect against a novel coronavirus attack in the future.

Timeline: The development of mRNA-1273 has been accelerated thanks to the new technology on which the vaccine is based. The vaccine is currently in Phase I trials and Modern has stated that it expects to begin Phase II trials within a couple of months.


BT162 messenger RNA, or mRNA, is a group of four potential vaccines based on the concept, jointly developed by German company BioNotech and US pharma giant Pfizer. The vaccines are being tested in joint phase I / II trials in Germany and are likely to enter the United States as well.

The four vaccines use various mRNA techniques developed by BioNotech and more or less purpose the body's own cells to produce novel coronavirus spike proteins. Like with mRNA-1273, the technology used by these vaccines is fundamentally new and, therefore, remains largely untapped.

Influence in India

Indian efforts to develop a vaccine against novel coronaviruses are currently in various stages of pre-clinical research. According to a report by the news agency Press Trust of India, at least six Indian firms are engaged in developing a novel coronavirus virus independently or in partnership with international companies.

Four of these potential vaccines are currently listed on the World Health Organization's Global Candidates list. These include efforts by Ahmedabad-based pharma major Zydus Cadila, Hyderabad-based biopharma firm Biological E Ltd and Pune-based vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India.

When do we get an extra coronavis vaccine?

We are still in the early days of vaccine development. In addition to the seven vaccine candidates mentioned above, the WHO has listed over 80 people - including some by heavyweight pharma companies - who are in various stages of pre-clinical research.

The novel coronovirus vaccine landscape is rapidly changing and challenging dogs about clinical trials. Typically, vaccines go through various stages of research, including testing on animals and at least three stages of clinical trials, that is, experiments on humans. All of this can take years, sometimes up to a decade.

But the rapid spread of novel coronoviruses and the effects on global health and the economy have forced scientists to accelerate this process by skipping or adding various stages of research. The approach is fraught with risks, but may mean that a vaccine for novel coronaviruses will be developed in record time.

And, what does record time look like?

Experts around the world are of the opinion that at the current pace of research, a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is about a year and a half away. And that is an optimistic assessment. stay tuned.

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