As COVID-19 continues to infect Americans at record rates and deaths begin to climb, a glimmer of hope appeared on Monday morning from two pharmaceutical giants.
The Food and Drug Administration announced on Monday morning that it was fast-tracking two potential coronavirus vaccines, from Pfizer, the US drug giant, and BioNTech, a German company. The two vaccine candidates, listed as BNT162b1 and BNT162b2, will head to Phase IIb/III trials with up to 30,000 human subjects.
The companies released early trial data earlier this month that showed participants in a 45-person trial who received the vaccine candidate had between 1.8 and 2.7 times as many antibodies as those who had already been infected with and recovered from COVID-19.
In June, the Trump Administration was focusing its vaccine hopes on five major pharmaceutical companies: Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, AstraZeneca, and Moderna. It seemed as if Moderna might be the fastest to a vaccine, but since being fast-tracked by the government nearly a month ago, it has reportedly clashed with the government agency over protocol for its next phase of trials.
At the time, the Moderna CEO said that the virus wasn’t particularly complicated and that he’d hoped that a vaccine could be approved by the end of the year. Pfizer and BioNTech have similarly said that with successful trials, its promising vaccine could get the green light by the end of 2020. If that does happen, Pfizer says it could have 100 million doses of the drug prepped for disbursement right away, with 1.2 billion available by the end of 2021.
Novavax, another US pharmaceutical company with a much more limited track record, announced a $1.6 billion deal with the government for its potential vaccine.
There are reportedly 180 different vaccines in different stages of trials around the world. In China, the pharmaceutical company CanSino announced late last month that the government had approved its experimental vaccine for use by the Chinese military. A Russian company on Sunday announced that it had completed human trials on 20 subjects who will be released between July 15 and 20th.