Dozens of companies and universities may not cross the finish line first in the race for a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, but they still see an opening for inoculations that prevent more infections, provide lasting immunity, protect older and more vulnerable people, yield massive quantities or ship easily throughout the world. Those are benefits the front-runners may not be able to deliver, Bloomberg reports.
“Is it the tortoise or the hare?” said Seth Berkley, chief executive officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a global non-profit focused on access to immunizations.
“There may be a vaccine we start using that isn’t ideal, and we move to a different one later.”
Some of the world’s most prolific and experienced vaccine developers -- Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Merck & Co. -- are among at least 100 challengers trailing the leaders. While they haven’t begun testing their experimental shots in humans, the companies are emerging as formidable contenders in the race to halt a disease that has infected about 10 million people globally, killing half a million.
More than one supplier will probably be needed to make the billions of doses that will required. And some populations may not respond to an initial vaccine, according to Michael Kinch, a drug development expert and associate vice chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis.
“We may end up creating different classes of society, where you have to stay home and you can go out,” Kinch said. “We haven’t even begun to put our arms and brains around what that would mean.”
More than a dozen potential Covid vaccines, including programs led by the University of Oxford and partner AstraZeneca Plc, Moderna Inc., Pfizer Inc. and China’s CanSino Biologics Inc., have started human trials over the past few months. They’re seeking to develop a vaccine in record time, in some cases aiming to provide the initial doses as early as this year.