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COVID-19 vaccine development: A look at some of the pharma companies and their progress

J&J’s aim is to supply over one billion doses globally through the course of 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to go on and while the world is slowly coming out of the previously imposed strict lockdown, things have not yet normalized. Cases continue to pile up and people across the globe are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a vaccine to help them get their lives back on track.

According to a report by CNN, more than 29 million cases of coronavirus have been reported globally and at least 925,000 people have died from the virus. Several pharmaceutical companies, both in the US and overseas, are working on developing a vaccine against the coronavirus and some of them are reportedly making good progress.

Pfizer

Pfizer Inc.’s (NYSE: PFE) stock has gained over 10% in the past three months. Last week, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX) reported positive data from the preclinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate BNT162b2 which was conducted on rhesus monkeys.

The companies also submitted a proposal to the US FDA to expand the enrollment of their Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial to up to approx. 44,000 participants which will also allow the inclusion of new populations. A conclusive report on the effectiveness of the vaccine is expected to be ready by the end of October.

If successful, the companies expect to seek regulatory approval by the same time and once that is obtained, they plan to supply up to 100 million doses worldwide by the end of 2020 and approx. 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

Johnson & Johnson

Shares of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) have gained 3% over the past three months. In July, the company reported positive results from its preclinical studies evaluating the efficacy of its vaccine candidate Ad26.COV2.S and also started the Phase 1/2a first-in-human clinical trial in the US and Belgium. J&J plans to start the Phase 3 clinical trial in September.

In August, Janssen Pharmaceutical entered into an agreement with the US government for the manufacturing and delivery of 100 million doses of the vaccine in the US, following approval by the FDA. J&J’s aim is to supply over one billion doses globally through the course of 2021.

Moderna

Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) is one of the prominent vaccine developers in the limelight currently. The stock has gained 242% since the beginning of the year. The company reported positive data from the Phase 1 clinical trial of its vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 in which neutralizing antibodies were observed in 100% of the participants across all age groups.

Moderna started its Phase 3 COVE study in July, which is expected to include 30,000 participants in the US. By the end of August, over 15,000 participants had been enrolled. The company is on track to deliver 500 million to 1 billion doses per year helped by its collaboration with Lonza, Catalent and ROVI.

Novavax

Novavax Inc.’s (NASDAQ: NVAX) stock has gained over 108% over the past three months. Earlier this month, the company reported positive data from the Phase 1/2 clinical trial of its vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373 and also commenced Phase 2 clinical trials.

On Tuesday, Novavax announced the amendment of its existing agreement with Serum Institute of India Private Limited (SIIPL) under which the latter will manufacture the antigen component of the vaccine. This will help Novavax increase its manufacturing capacity to over 2 billion doses annually when all planned capacity comes online by mid-2021.

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