DETROIT – Right now, researchers around the world are working on more than 165 different coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines. Two of those vaccines that haven’t been heavily publicized are continuing to move forward in the testing process.
There are 31 coronavirus vaccines currently being tested in humans. Several experts have said the first coronavirus vaccines available might not ultimately end up being the most effective.
There’s a possibility multiple vaccines will prove effective against the coronavirus, which would be a positive since no single company could produce enough doses to meet the global demand. It could also be that certain vaccines work better in certain groups, such as older people or children. That all remains to be seen.
A wide variety of approaches are being tested, and even the U.S. military is working toward accomplishing this critical mission.
Walter Reed Army Institute of Research
Scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research have played a major role in vaccine development before.
“Our institution has been at the forefront of addressing emerging outbreaks for over 100 years,” Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad said.
It has contributed to about half of the vaccines approved today in the U.S., including for viruses such as rubella and influenza. The latest efforts are targeted at SARS-CoV-2.
The approach uses a protein called ferritin to expose the immune system to the coronavirus spike.
“By taking this protein away from the virus and just putting it onto a stable protein, we can actually generate an immune response without any of the illness associated,” Modjarrad said.
The goal is to start human trials by the end of summer or in the fall.
The Walter Reed vaccine candidate is considered a second-tier vaccine, meaning it would probably be ready after some of the frontrunners are already producing millions of doses.
Another vaccine that’s moving forward in the process is the one made by Maryland-based biotech company Novavax.
This vaccine also contains proteins from the coronavirus spike.
Novavax is set to begin the second phase of human testing in 2,600 healthy adults in South Africa, as well as 240 adults with HIV.
Advocacy groups have pushed for people with HIV to be included in clinical trials since their immune systems might respond differently.
Novavax also plans to launch trials in the U.S. and Australia in the near future.
If the Novavax vaccine proves to be successful, the company believes it could deliver 100 million doses to the U.S. for use in the early months of 2021.