The Race to Develop Vaccines for COVID-19

Dozens of companies and government laboratories around the world are working to create a vaccine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus epidemic. In particular, over the past 48 hours, three biotech companies have been in the spotlight: BioNTech, CureVac and Moderna.

All of these companies specialize in messenger RNA (mRNA) therapy. These mRNA molecules are used to instruct the body to develop its own immune response to fight a variety of different diseases. This type of vaccine has the potential to be developed and produced faster than other conventional vaccines..

Moderna is a Massachusetts-based biotech company working with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). A clinical trial of the vaccine kicked off Monday in Seattle, Washington. It is called «first phase» research conducted by the NIH. Moderna is also preparing for potential research «second phase», Which she will conduct herself. Moderna shares rose 27% on Monday, and after the opening trading on Tuesday jumped another 14%. 

BioNTech is a German biotech company that recently announced two strategic partnerships to achieve faster progress in vaccine development. She formed a partnership with Fosun Pharma to advance its vaccine development efforts in China, and Pfizer to do the same outside of China..

Analysts at Berenberg Bank say they are impressed with the company’s efforts to quickly enter into an alliance with a leading pharmaceutical company in China, and see this as an important confirmation of BioNTech’s mRNA technology platform..

«BioNTech appears to be best positioned in the COVID-19 race thanks to its diversified mRNA platform, delivery information and manufacturing capacity.», – said the bank in its research note.

CureVac is a German unlisted company that plans to begin human testing of an experimental vaccine this summer. After they were recently embroiled in political showdowns between Germany and the US, the European Commission has reportedly pledged € 80 billion in financial support to the company to help them launch their product in Europe..

Race to develop COVID-19 vaccine picks up steam

On Sunday, Reuters reported that the German government is trying to thwart the US administration from persuading CureVac to move its research to the United States..

On Monday, CureVac noted that «is working to expand its manufacturing capacity to be able to provide up to 1 billion doses for epidemics such as Covid-19».

As these companies show, partnerships are key to developing and producing vaccines for the public. Public-private partnerships, as well as partnerships between traditional pharmaceutical giants and smaller biotech players, can be critical to getting these vaccines to be tested and brought to market as soon as possible..

However, it is still not decided which type of therapeutic approach will work best. The Barclays Pharmaceutical Research Group noted that while the efficacy of mRNA vaccines remains unconfirmed, they are likely to dominate in the short term, given the faster development timeline and rapid progress in the early stages..

Ultimately, the Barclays team believes these new vaccines could be replaced by more traditional therapeutic approaches over time..

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