Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night


Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

Article 1: COVID-19 Candidate Vaccines

Last update: 15 April 2020

Written by Sungho Park, Ghassene Allegue

Revised by Ashley Soyeon Lee, Matija Bajzelj


We are responding to a once-in-a-century pandemic. The WHO has declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic for the first time in over a decade since the swine flu outbreak in 2009.1 The cumulative number of confirmed cases worldwide has exceeded 1, 900, 000, and the number is increasing rapidly in all continents, especially in North America and Europe. 

The press and experts often use ‘war’ as a metaphor to express ‘the fight against infectious diseases’. To win the war against COVID-19, previously known as 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) respiratory disease and caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) coronavirus strain, one of the most necessary weapons for mankind is medicine.

One of the differences between the 2009 swine flu (H1N1) pandemic and the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic may be the presence of a cure. In 2009, there was a clear cure for the flu which was led by Oseltamivir, but as for now, there are no approved treatments available for COVID-19.2 However, of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the world's largest clinical trial registry, shows that as of 15 April 2020, there are more than 500 registered studies related to COVID-19. Among them, more than 300 clinical trials are related to treatments, 9 clinical trials are related to vaccines, and 8 are federally-funded clinical trials.3


COVID-19 Vaccines in Clinical Trials

Since COVID-19 is very variable, it is difficult to develop a vaccine. However, studies are currently underway by various global Big Pharmas including Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, and AbbVie, as well as national research groups and companies.4




Current stage of clinical evaluation

Identifier/Registration Number

Estimated End Date of Trials


CanSino Biological Inc./Beijing Institute of Biotechnology

Phase 2

Phase 1



Jan 2021

Dec 2020

United States

Inovio Pharmaceuticals

Phase 1


Nov 2020

United States

Moderna Therapeutics

Phase 1


Jun 2021

Table 1 COVID-19 candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation.5-8

mRNA-1273 vaccine by Moderna and Vaccine Research Center 

A collaboration between Moderna, Inc. and the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has been cultivated to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus. The vaccine targets the Spike (S) protein of the coronavirus. 


The clinical trials are in phase 1 and are expected to end on June 1, 2021. Moderna, Inc. further reported that it is possible that during an emergency, a vaccine could be available to some people possibly including healthcare professionals in the fall of 2020 given the fact that a commercially-available vaccine is not likely to be available for at least 12-18 months.9


CanSino Biological Inc. and Beijing Institute of Biotechnology

CanSino Biologics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company specialised in vaccine R&D and commercialisation, is close to starting the first phase of clinical trials in China. CanSino aims to use its adenovirus-based viral vector vaccine technology platform, taking a snippet of coronavirus’ genetic code and entwining it with a harmless virus, thereby exposing healthy volunteers to the novel infection and spurring the production of antibodies.10

Many other research organisations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are also funding the clinical studies for COVID-19 candidate vaccines. You can see the full draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines being evaluated according to the WHO here.



  1. WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19, 11 March 2020
  2. David Reddy, Responding to pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza: the role of oseltamivir, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Volume 65, Issue suppl_2, 1 April 2010
  4. Anthony S. Fauci M.D. et al, Covid-19 — Navigating the Uncharted, N Engl J Med., 2020.
  5. Chinese Clinical Trial Registry, A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled phase II clinical trial for Recombinant Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCOV) Vaccine (Adenovirus Vector),
  6. Chinese Clinical Trial Registry, A phase I clinical trial for recombinant novel coronavirus (2019-COV) vaccine (adenoviral vector),
  7., Safety, Tolerability and Immunogenicity of INO-4800 for COVID-19 in Healthy Volunteers,
  8., Safety and Immunogenicity Study of 2019-nCoV Vaccine (mRNA-1273) for Prophylaxis SARS CoV-2 Infection (COVID-19),
  9. Moderna’s Work on a Potential Vaccine Against COVID-19
  10. CanSinoBIO’s Investigational Vaccine Against COVID-19 Approved for Phase 1 Clinical Trial in China