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3 Covid-19 vaccine candidates set to enter final stage of trial. Here’s everything you need to know about them

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Researchers and pharmaceutical companies around the globe are racing to find a vaccine for the coronavirus disease. While some companies are still focussing on the initial round of clinical trials for their vaccine candidate, others have raced ahead to third and final phase of testing.

In fact, US President Donald Trump, whose government is pouring in billions for a Covid-19 vaccine, said on Thursday it was possible that the United States would have a coronavirus vaccine before the November 3 election.

However, top US infectious diseases official Anthony Fauci, a leading voice in the healthcare fraternity, had given a more conservative outlook. He had said on Wednesday that drugmakers will likely have tens of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines in the early part of next year. Fauci said there could be a billion vaccine doses available by the end of 2021, and that the world could get past the pandemic by then.

The companies which are the front runners in the race to find a Covid-19 vaccine are Moderna, Pfizer and Novavax.

Here is a look at how these companies are preparing their vaccine candidates and where do they stand:

Moderna is developing the mRNA-1273 vaccine to fight the Sars-CoV-2 virus which causes the respiratory disease known as Covid-19. The company announced last week that it has started phase 3 clinical trials in the United States. The trial is being conducted at nearly 100 research sites in the US. Moderna had conducted the second phase of clinical trial in May, but the results are available only for the first phase. Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine generated an immune system response, but many volunteers participating in the company’s drug trial reported side effects like fatigue, chills, headache and muscle pain.

Pfizer has more than one vaccine candidate and CNN reported that it has started combined Phase 2/3 trial with one of them, BNT162b2. The vaccine is being developed jointly with German company BioNTech. CNN further reported that the trials are being conducted at about 120 sites worldwide. Pfizer is expected to apply for regulatory approvals as early as October. In its initial trial, the vaccine produced antibodies and also generated immune response. Pfizer claimed that the vaccine created a tolerability profile and led to mild side effects like fever, fatigue and chills.

Novavax will start the Phase 3 clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373 next month. The first phase of the trial showed it generated antibodies to fight the coronavirus disease, the company said in a release. It further claimed that the level of antibodies the vaccine generated was four times those developed by the people who recovered from the coronavirus disease. Talking about the side effects, Novavax said that the volunteers experienced muscle pain, nausea and joint pain, and at least of them had mild fever. The US-based company said that it has entered a supply and license agreement with Serum Institute of India for the development and commercialisation of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The deal was signed on July 30, according to an SEC filing by Novavax.

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