10 Biotech Companies Leading the COVID-19 Vaccine Race

Biotech giant Pfizer announced a partnership with German company BioNtech to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

Biotech Companies leading the COVID-19 Vaccine Race
Biotech Companies leading the COVID-19 Vaccine Race. Uploaded by Shutterstock

Whilst several clinical trials are underway and more than 20 vaccines for COVID-19 are in development in China, US and Europe, no COVID-19 therapeutics or vaccines are currently licensed, the following article includes the 10 biotech companies that lead the COVID-19 vaccine race.

1. Pfizer Inc.

New York-based biotech giant Pfizer announced a partnership with German company BioNtech to develop a COVID-19 vaccine focused on messenger RNA (also called mRNA).

The two companies previously worked together on a flu vaccine in 2018.

This vaccine candidate is called BNT-162 and it’s set to start clinical testing any day now.

2.  Moderna Therapeutics

Moderna Therapeutics is a Camrbidge, Massachusetts-based biotech company that also works with mRNA.

The company makes synthetic mRNA that can then be injected into patients in order for the body to create its own treatment and therapies. 

Moderna developed its first batch of vaccines only 42 days after the genetic sequence of COVID-19 was published by Chinese researchers.

A study of 45 human patients between the ages of 18 and 55 is projected to be done by June 2021.

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3. Inovio Pharmaceuticals

Inovio is another American company. They have already wrapped up preclinical testing of their candidate, INO-4800, and are now taking the first steps in a clinical test.

The company is selecting 30 patients from the U.S., China, and South Korea. They project that the clinical study will be complete by the fall.

Their goal is to manufacture 1 million doses by that time for use in further trials and for emergency cases.

4. Novavax Inc.

Novavax, the creator of the coming year’s flu vaccine, has announced that it has multiple coronavirus vaccine candidates. Clinical studies are set to begin in June.

The company is also working with Emergent Biosolutions, mentioned below, on one of their experimental vaccines.

5. GlaxoSmithKline

Australian company GlaxoSmithKline is a vaccine expert, developing the most popular flu and HPV vaccines.

They specialize in adjuvants, which are additives to vaccines that boost immunity, therefore minimizing the dose needed to be effective.

It could also be a great money-saving tool by allowing for a quicker manufacturing process. They have partnered with Clover Biopharmaceuticals Inc. that will use adjuvants with its candidate, COVID-19 S-Trimer.

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6. Johnson & Johnson

Household brand and multinational conglomerate Johnson & Johnson is partnering with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to create a vaccine.

The company started preclinical testing in Boston and is aiming to have a vaccine candidate by the end of April.

7. Sanofi

Sanofi, a French company that has previously worked on flu vaccines, has partnered with BARDA in order to test its vaccine candidate.

This project involves the use of recombinant DNA, which are DNA molecules that were formed through genetic recombination.

This usually refers to the act of cloning molecules from multiple sources, creating a new sequence within a single molecule.

8. Vir Biotechnology

San Francisco-based Vir has teamed with WuXi Biologics and Biogen to create its candidate. This vaccine uses an antibody approach, making it more flexible to changes in the virus.

Even if the virus mutates, an antibody vaccine would be effective. Clinical testing will begin in the coming months.

9. Emergent BioSolutions

Emergent BioSolutions usually works on antibody treatments for infectious diseases and opioid overdoses. The company is working on two candidates that will use immunotherapy.

Using antibodies derived from coronavirus-infected blood, the company will create a drug that will introduce the patient’s body to an antibody so that when the patient’s body sees it again (for instance, if the person is exposed to COVID-19), it will know how to fight it off.

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This is the basis for almost all vaccine technology. Emergent is working with both Novavax and Vaxart.

10. Vaxart

Vaxart’s candidate is unique from most other candidates due to its delivery method. The company is focusing on the manufacturing an oral vaccine in the form of a pill.

The logic behind this method is that it can greatly increase the efficiency of manufacturing, distribution and administration.

Patients would be able to take such treatment at home.

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