A Look at the Most Promising Candidates for a Covid-19 Vaccine

From the U.S. to Germany, scientists are working around the clock to find a vaccine against the novel coronavirus. While experts caution that the process will take time—and that it’s not even a sure bet one can be found—some researchers say a vaccine could be ready for emergency use by the end of the year. The Trump administration has announced “Operation Warp Speed” to have an inoculation ready as soon as possible.

Most of the programs are in their early stages, meaning the gold standard of data, clinical trials with “blinded” placebo and therapeutic groups, is still a ways off. In normal times, the process to approve a drug or vaccine is slow and painstaking. It can be accelerated but at the risk of incurring unforeseen harm. When rules are loosened in the desire to get a vaccine to market quickly, it’s important to cast a skeptical eye on too-good-to-be-true data. It’s also possible that more than one usable vaccine could emerge. In the polio epidemic of the 1950s, scientists developed two different kinds, first an injection and later oral drops, to help eradicate the disease.

Johnson & Johnson
Working on a $1 billion- plus effort with the U.S. government to test a vaccine, J&J plans to start human trials by September.

Inovio kicked off its vaccine trial in April; the company is targeting larger studies this summer.

The U.S. government has awarded the company almost $500 million in funding to develop and test its candidate. A patient trial is under way; early results could be available in late May or June.

The company says its inoculation can neutralize different strains of the virus.

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline
Sanofi is testing technology that’s already used in a flu shot, with Glaxo providing some of the ingredients. Patient trials could start in the second half of this year.

Imperial College London
Researchers have received funding for their vaccine project and aim to begin clinical trials in June.

Oxford University and AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca has agreed to make an experimental inoculation developed by researchers at Oxford. Already being studied in humans, it could reach late-stage trials by the middle of the year.

BioNTech and Pfizer
The German and American duo launched clinical trials of its vaccine in the U.S. and Europe. If it’s successful and approved by regulators, the drugmaker could start distributing the shot on an emergency-use basis in the fall.

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