Johnson & Johnson
Who: One of the world’s largest multinational corporations, based in New Jersey, that specializes in healthcare and pharmaceutical products.
What: Johnson & Johnson is developing an adenovector vaccine, which introduces a piece of DNA from SARS-CoV-2 into the common cold-causing adenovirus that has been genetically changed so that it can’t replicate in the body.
Status: On September 23, Johnson & Johnson announced the launch of a phase three ENSEMBLE trial that will evaluate the safety of the vaccine—and how well it works—among up to 60,000 adults from a variety of countries.
Who: A Massachusetts-based biotech company, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health.
What: This vaccine candidate relies on injecting snippets of a virus’s genetic material, in this case mRNA, into human cells.
Status: On July 27, Moderna announced it had started the third phase of its clinical trials, even as it continues to monitor phase two results.
Who: One of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, based in New York, in collaboration with German biotech company BioNTech.
What: Pfizer and BioNTech are also developing an mRNA vaccine based on the German company’s earlier efforts to use the technology in experimental cancer vaccines.
Status: On July 27, Pfizer and BioNTech launched a trial that combines phase two and three by enrolling a diverse population in areas with significant SARS-CoV-2 transmission. It has expanded the trial to include 44,000 people across multiple countries.
University of Oxford
Name: ChAdOx1 nCoV-19
Who: The U.K. university, in collaboration with the biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
What: Oxford’s candidate is what’s known as a viral vector vaccine, essentially a “Trojan horse” presented to the immune system.
Status: Preliminary results from this candidate’s first two clinical trial phases revealed that the vaccine had triggered a strong immune response—including increased antibodies and responses from T-cells—with only minor side effects such as fatigue and headache. It is in phase three of clinical trials, aiming to recruit up to 50,000 volunteers in Brazil, the United Kingdom, the United States, and South Africa.
Who: A Chinese biopharmaceutical company, in collaboration with Brazilian research center Butantan.
What: CoronaVac is an inactivated vaccine, meaning it uses a non-infectious version of the coronavirus.
Status: On July 3, Brazil’s regulatory agency granted this vaccine candidate approval to move ahead to phase three, as it continues to monitor the results of the phase two clinical trials.
Who: China’s state-run pharmaceutical company, in collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products.
What: Sinopharm is also using an inactivated SARS-CoV-2 vaccine that it hopes will reach the public by the end of 2020.
Status: On August 22, China revealed that it began to inoculate medical workers and other high-risk groups with the Sinopharm trial vaccines in July, making it the first experimental vaccine available to civilians beyond clinical volunteers.
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
Name: Bacillus Calmette-Guerin BRACE trial
Who: The largest child health research institute in Australia, in collaboration with the University of Melbourne.
What: Evidence has emerged over the years that this vaccine may boost the immune system and help the body fight off other diseases as well. Researchers are investigating whether these benefits may also extend to SARS-CoV-2, and this trial has reached phase three in Australia.
Status: In April, researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute began a series of randomized controlled trials that will test whether BCG might work on the coronavirus as well. They aim to recruit 10,000 healthcare workers in the study.
Who: A Chinese biopharmaceutical company.
What: CanSino has also developed a viral vector vaccine, using a weakened version of the adenovirus as a vehicle for introducing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to the body.
Status: Though the company was still technically in phase two of its trial, on June 25, CanSino became the first company to receive limited approval to use its vaccine in people.
The Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology
Name: Sputnik V
Who: A Russian research institution, in partnership with the state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund.
What: Gamaleya has developed a viral vector vaccine that also uses a weakened version of the common cold-causing adenovirus to introduce the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to the body. This vaccine uses two strains of adenovirus, and it requires a second injection after 21 days to boost the immune response.
Status: Despite the lack of published evidence, Russia has cleared the Sputnik V vaccine for widespread use and claimed it as the first registered COVID-19 vaccine on the market.