The race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine: 5 updates

There are six vaccine candidates being tested in clinical trials, and 77 were in preclinical trials as of April 22, according to the World Health Organization

Five updates on the efforts to create a COVID-19 vaccine: 

  1. The head of the US agency leading COVID-19 vaccine development stepped down April 21 and will take a narrower role at the National Institutes of Health. Rick Bright, PhD, is one of the country's leading vaccine development experts and was director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which has led federal efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Gary Disbrow, former deputy director of BARDA, will become acting director.

  2. Roche said a COVID-19 vaccine "most likely" won't be ready before the end of 2021, Business Insider reported. Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche, told Business Insider he was skeptical that a vaccine could be fully tested, manufactured and widely distributed in 12 to 18 months.

  3. The National Institutes of Health partnered up with 16 drugmakers to speed COVID-19 development. The public-private partnership will be called "Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines," or ACTIV, and is intended to standardize research between federally funded researchers and the drug companies.

  4. Sanofi's CEO said the drugmaker can produce up to 600 million doses of its vaccine next year, CNBC reported. The drugmaker partnered up with GlaxoSmithKline to develop a vaccine they hope will receive approval by the end of next year. They plan to start clinical trials in the second half of this year, and if they are successful, they say they can produce up to 600 million doses by next year.

  5. HHS said it would give Moderna up to $483 million to speed development of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, The Boston Globe reported. Moderna said the funds will allow it to make the vaccine around the clock, seven days a week and that it plans to hire up to 150 employees to ramp up manufacturing. If the vaccine is shown to be safe in initial trials, which started March 16, Moderna plans to begin midstage trials in the second quarter of this year and a late-stage trial in the fall, the last step before getting FDA approval, according to The Boston Globe.
 

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