Where Are We On Finding A Coronavirus Vaccine?

Two studies so far show the greatest promise, gearing up for late-stage trials with promising results so far.
Wednesday 22 July 2020
Trials for the UK vaccine, called AZD1222, have found that the vaccine induced "strong antibody and T-cell immune responses". Photo: AFP

The world is well underway in its search for a vaccine for the coronavirus, as two recent studies offer new hope that a countermeasure for the deadly pandemic will finally be found.

Published in The Lancet medical journal, one of the trials conducted among 1,000 British adults found that a vaccine induced “strong antibody and T-cell immune responses”. The UK vaccine, called AZD1222, is developed by AstraZeneca and scientists at Oxford University. 

A separate trial in China involving more than 500 people showed most had developed widespread antibody immune responses. The Chinese vaccine, named Ad5-nCOV, is developed by CanSino Biologics Inc and a military research unit. The Lancet said third-phase trials are needed to confirm whether the vaccine candidate effectively protects against the infection.


Authors of the UK study say further clinical studies, including in older adults, should be done with this vaccine. Current results focus on immune response measured in the laboratory. 

The two are among a handful of promising vaccines gearing up for late-stage trials. Other vaccine frontrunners include companies such as Moderna, Inovio, Novavax, Sinopharm, Sinovac, and BioNTech. They lead the race comprising 21 “vaccine candidates” identified by the World Health Organization.

Many are still in the first phase, which seeks to establish a product’s security and dosage. Some have graduated to phase two, which examines how effective a medicine may be.

Sinovac’s project, among the most advanced, will start testing for its vaccine on volunteers in Brazil this month.


US biotech firm Inovio has also reported preliminary but encouraging test results, with a vaccine administered to 40 volunteers that triggered an immune system response in 94% of those who completed the first phase of clinical trials. 

A Canadian clinical trial to involve CanSino has been greenlighted, and the company said last month that China’s military had approved for use within its ranks the vaccine it helped to develop.

Russia said on 20 July that it hopes to complete trials of a coronavirus vaccine in August and produce 200 million doses with foreign partners by the end of the year. 

British biotech firm Synairgen also said on the same day that a randomised trial of an aerosol-based treatment shows it could drastically reduce the number of new coronavirus patients dying of the disease or requiring intensive care.