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Another company claims to have a coronavirus vaccine in the works

Published Feb 27th, 2020 9:09PM EST
coronavirus vaccine
Image: Shutterstock

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It was only a few days ago that a US company announced it had developed a coronavirus vaccine candidate and was rapidly approaching the human testing phase. That company, Moderna, says it has already provided the US government with samples of the vaccine for further evaluation and could move to human testing soon with results coming by July.

Now, with the entire world scrambling to come up with solutions to stop the spread of the virus, another company is throwing its hat into the vaccine ring. Novavax, a small biotech company based out of Maryland, says it is making significant progress on its own version of a COVID-19 vaccine and plans to begin human testing within months.

The coronavirus COVID-19 isn’t as deadly as some other virus outbreaks we’ve seen in recent years, but it carries its own unique set of challenges for health officials. The virus can jump from person to person even when no symptoms are present, allowing it to fly under the radar for days or even weeks in infected individuals. With that in mind, vaccines sound like a great defense against the spread, and there are multiple in the works.

“Our previous experience working with other coronaviruses, including both MERS and SARS, allowed us to mobilize quickly against COVID-19 and successfully complete the critical preliminary steps to engineer viable vaccine candidates,” Stanley C. Erck, CEO of Novavax, said in a statement.

“Now that the protein has been expressed stably in our baculovirus system, we aim to identify the optimal candidate and scale up production of sufficient vaccine for preliminary clinical trials. We are now well-positioned to advance the COVID-19 vaccine candidate to Phase I clinical testing in May or June.”

That seems to be roughly the same schedule that Moderna is on with its own coronavirus vaccine, and the development of both of these drugs has been quite rapid. With the equally speedy spread of COVID-19 both within China and elsewhere on the planet, the faster a viable vaccine is identified, the better.

However, exactly how long it might take between when a vaccine is cleared for distribution and production of that vaccine is anyone’s guess. It’s possible, or even probable, that a vaccine for the virus isn’t readily available until much later in 2020 or perhaps even early 2021.