COVID-19 Vaccine Development: Where the World Stands


It took the World Health Organization (WHO) over 8 weeks from the reporting of first cluster of cases of COVID-19 Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019, to declaring novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, assessing, at the time, based on over 118,000 cases of the coronavirus illness in over 110 countries and territories around the world and the sustained risk of further global spread. Since then, towards the end of December 2020, over 8 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported around the world. Global life, just as global economy, is upended. Global journey into the unknown has left governments and systems to grapple with circumstances that are feared to leave behind significant geopolitical wreckage.

Analyses indicate that COVID-19 is already undoing years of progress in curbing global poverty as the number of people falling under the category of “extreme poverty”,  is burgeoning again. The novel coronavirus is also unleashing a human development crisis equivalent to levels of deprivation last seen in the mid-1980s on income (with the largest contraction in economic activity since the Great Depression), health (directly causing a death toll over 1.7 million and indirectly leading potentially to an additional 6,000 child deaths every day from preventable causes over the next 6 months) and education (with effective out-of-school rates – meaning, accounting for the inability to access the internet – in primary education expected to drop to the levels of actual rates of the mid-1980s levels). In an effort to mitigate ramification of COVID-19 which are lockdowns that have huge impact on almost all walks of life, several countries are spearheading development of vaccine; the commercialization of a number of those is underway. The article sheds light on the status of the vaccine search across the globe by analyzing the data made available by the UNICEF


… Overall, 73 vaccine candidates are in different stages of clinical trials (Phase I, Phase I/II, Phase II, Phase II/III, Phase III, Regulatory Review, Emergency/Limited Use, Licensure) with 19 billion reported global vaccine production volumes in 2021. 7.2 billion vaccine doses have been secured through bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements with the range of reported vaccine per dose stand between US$ 2.19 to US$ 44. 32 vaccine candidates are at the Phase-1 stage, 17 at Phase I/II, 5 at Phase II, 4 at Phase II/III, 5 at Phase III, 2 at the Regulatory Review (AZD1222 by AstraZenca/Serum Institute of India/University of Oxford, Ad26 SARS-CoV-2 by Janssen), 4 at Emergency/Limited Use (CoronaVac by Sinovac, mRNA-1273 by Moderna, Ad5-nCoV by Beijing Institute of BioTechnology/Tianjin CanSino, WIBP-CorV by CNBG Wuhan) and 4 is at Licensure stage (Comirnaty/BNT-162 by BioNTech/Pfizer, BBIBP-CorV by CNBG Beijing, EpiVacCorona by FBRISRC VB VECTOR Rospotrebnadzor Koltsovo, Sputnik V by Gamaleya Research Institute). In addition, 52 vaccine candidates are at the Discovery and 188 are at the Preclinical stages.


The United States is leading the vaccine development in terms of the number of vaccine developers followed by the China, Canada, India, France, Russia, United Kingdom, Turkey, Germany, Republic of Korea, Japan, Iran, Spain, Thailand, Brazil, Taiwan, Viet Nam, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Mexico, Netherlands, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Egypt, Israel, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Austria, Cuba, Italy, Nigeria, Peru, Sweden, Indonesia, Norway, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Slovenia.


An analysis of the technology platform of 313 vaccine candidates show 34.2% are Protein subunit, 12.5% are RNA, 11.8% are Non-replicating viral vector, 9.3% DNA, 8.6% Replicating viral vector, 7.7% are Inactivated, 7% are VLP, 1.6% Live attenuated, 1.3% OMV, 0.6% Live Attenuated Bacterial Vector, 0.3% Replicating bacterial vector, 0.3% T-Cell with 4.8% vaccine candidates technology platforms are unknown.


For the cumulative vaccine production capacity, 1 billion doses can be produced in Q4-2020, 7.6 billion doses in H1-2021, 11.1 billion doses in H2-2021, 26.2 billion doses in 2022 and 27.5 billion doses in 2023. The 4 vaccine candidates that are at the Licensure stage, the production capacity stands at 0.05 billion in Q4-2020, 0.82 billion in H1-2021, 0.90 billion in H2-2021, 1.66 billion each in 2022 and 2023. The 2 vaccine candidates that are at the Regulatory Review stage, the production capacity stands at 0.4 billion in Q4-2020, 2.2 billion in H1-2021, 2.6 billion in H2-2021, 5.1 billion each in 2022 and 2023.


As of today, the largest number of vaccines have been secured through the bilateral/multilateral agreements by the European Commission followed by United States, COVAX, India, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Latin America, Italy, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Chile, Philippines, Thailand, Egypt, Nepal, Israel, New Zealand, Colombia, Malaysia, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR and Macao, Morocco and Venezuela. Majority of the orders were placed to the AstraZeneca, Novavax, Pfizer/BioNTech, Janssen, Sanofi/GSK, Moderna, Gamaleya Research Institute, CureVac, Sinovac, Valneva, Medicago, CNBG, University of Queensland, Tianjin CanSino and COVAXX.


The world has seen a considerable progress in the development of vaccine; no vaccine was developed in such a short span of time in the known history.  Now there is a hope and the light can be seen towards the end of the tunnel.  However, access to vaccine shall be limited in the beginning for obvious reasons. Due to the rationing of the vaccine, countries are preparing vaccine deployment plans by identifying and proposing the old age groups and the health staff to be the first one to receive vaccine. Till the widespread distribution of vaccine, following the WHO-advised standard operating procedures is sine qua non and the world has to show solidarity against a common enemy.

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