There is also no proven vaccine against MERS. When MERS became prevalent, it was believed that existing SARS research may provide a useful template for developing vaccines and therapeutics against a MERS-CoV infection. As of March 2020, there was one (DNA based) MERS vaccine which completed phase I clinical trials in humans, and three others in progress, all of which are viral-vectored vaccines, two adenoviral-vectored (ChAdOx1-MERS, BVRS-GamVac), and one MVA-vectored (MVA-MERS-S).
COVID-19 was identified in December 2019. A major outbreak spread around the world in 2020, leading to considerable investment and research activity to develop a vaccine. Many organizations are using published genomes to develop possible vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.
In early March 2020, CEPI announced a US$2 billion funding goal in a global partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil society organisations to accelerate development of COVID-19 vaccines, with commitments to date by the governments of Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, and the UK.
Sarah Gilbert at the Jenner Institute of the University of Oxford announced that they had developed a vaccine candidate based on an adenovirus vector called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, and signed a manufacturing contract with Advent. They announced plans to start animal studies in March 2020, and began recruiting 510 human participants for a phase I/II trial on 27 March. The trial will randomize 260 participants to the experimental vaccine and 250 to a saline injection, with six months of follow-up.
It is possible vaccines in development will not be safe or effective. One study found that between 2006 and 2015, the success rate of obtaining approval from Phase I to successful Phase III trials was 11.5% for vaccines ("biologics").
While the flu vaccine is typically mass-produced by injecting the virus into chicken eggs, this method will not work for the coronavirus vaccine, as the novel coronavirus cannot replicate inside eggs.
Reports of preclinical research
Around 24 January 2020 in Australia, the University of Queensland announced that it is investigating the potential of a molecular clamp vaccine that would genetically modify viral proteins in order to stimulate an immune reaction.
On 8 February 2020, the laboratory OncoGen in Romania published a paper on the design of an vaccine-design with a similar technology like the one used for cancer neoantigen vaccination therapy" against COVID-19. On 25 March the head of the research institute announced that they finalized the synthesis of the vaccine and that they were beginning the tests.
On 27 February 2020, a Generex subsidiary company, NuGenerex Immuno-Oncology announces they were beginning a vaccine project to create an Ii-Key peptide vaccine against COVID-19. They wanted to produce a vaccine candidate that could be tested in humans "within 90 days."
Emergent Biosolutions announced that it had teamed with Novavax Inc. in the development and manufacture of a vaccine. The partners further announced plans for preclinical testing and a Phase I clinical trial by July 2020.
On 12 March 2020, India's Health Ministry announced they are working with 11 isolates and that even on a fast track it would take at least around one-and-a-half to two years to develop a vaccine.
On 16 March 2020, the European Commission offered an €80 million investment in CureVac, a German biotechnology company, to develop a mRNA vaccine. Earlier that week, The Guardian had reported the US President Donald Trump offered CureVac "'large sums of money' for exclusive access to a Covid-19 vaccine", with the German government contesting this effort.
On 17 March 2020, American pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced a partnership with German company BioNTech to jointly develop a mRNA-based vaccine. mRNA-based vaccine candidate BNT162, currently in pre-clinical testing with clinical trials expected to begin in April 2020.
In Italy on 17 March 2020, Takis Biotech, an Italian biotech company announced they will have pre-clinical testing results in April 2020 and their final vaccine candidate could begin human testing by fall.
In France on 19 March 2020, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) announced a US$4.9 million investment in a COVID-19 vaccine research consortium involving the Institut Pasteur, Themis Bioscience (Vienna, Austria), and the University of Pittsburgh, bringing CEPI's total investment in COVID-19 vaccine development to US$29 million. CEPI's other investment partners for COVID-19 vaccine development are Moderna, Curevac, Inovio, Novavax, the University of Hong Kong, the University of Oxford, and the University of Queensland.
On 20 March 2020, Russian health officials announced that scientists have began animal testing of six different vaccine candidates.
Imperial College London researchers announced on 20 March 2020 that they are developing a self-amplifying RNA vaccine for COVID-19. The vaccine candidate was developed within 14 days of receiving the sequence from China.
In late March, the Canadian government announced C$275 million in funding for 96 research projects on medical countermeasures against COVID-19, including numerous vaccine candidates at Canadian companies and universities, such as the Medicago and University of Saskatchewan initiatives. Around the same time, the Canadian government announced C$192 million specifically for developing a COVID-19 vaccine, with plans to establish a national "vaccine bank" of several new vaccines that could be used if another coronavirus outbreak occurs.
An additional consortium of Microsoft, six universities (including one in the first consortium), and the National Center for Supercomputer Applications, working under the auspices of C3.ai, a company founded by billionaire software developer Thomas Siebel, are currently pooling their supercomputer resources for the same uses alongside developing medical protocols and strengthening public health strategies around the world, as well as awarding large grants to researchers who propose to use AI to carry out similar tasks by May.
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