The first vaccine to be put into use may not be as effective as expected, prompting people to turn to other options.
In addition, the development process is full of challenges, and some manufacturers may quit.
In the end, “late in the game” does not mean there is no chance, especially given the huge demand for vaccines.
Who will win the tortoise and the hare?
As pharmaceutical companies race against the clock to develop coVID-19 vaccines, many people find that the pharmaceutical giants are not leading the way.
Currently, the coVID-19 vaccine, Moderna and Pfizer, jointly developed by Oxford University and Astrazeneca, have all been tested in humans, while Merck and Johnson & Johnson are lagging behind.
On June 19, Merck announced that it had completed the acquisition of Themis, initially focusing on the development of a coVID-19 candidate vaccine, which is still in the preclinical development stage and is scheduled to begin clinical trials in late 2020.
The European Commission and Johnson & Johnson are in advanced talks to stockpile or purchase the coVID-19 vaccine under development, according to media reports on January 18. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson announced in early June that it would accelerate the development of the vaccine and enter human clinical trials in July.
Glaxosmithkline, a British drugmaker, has taken a different tack, announcing at the end of May that it plans to produce 1 billion doses of vaccine adjuvants, which would save protein per dose and help mass-produce vaccines.
01 Why not speed up?
The drug giants’ strategy is not without merit.
Seth Berkely, CEO of the Vaccine Alliance, said in a recent interview that the first Vaccine may not work as well as expected, which could lead people to switch to other vaccines.
So does Charlie Weller, part director of vaccines at the British research firm Wellcome.
She believes that there are many challenges in the development of coVID-19 vaccine, and people may drop out during this process, so different approaches and paths are needed.
02 Demand is so great that it may require more than one vaccine supplier
With novel Coronavirus likely to coexist in the world for a long time, the demand for vaccines will be huge, which means that more than one vaccine supplier may be required.
According to Worldometer’s real-time statistics, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally has exceeded 10 million as of 2:11 p.m. Beijing time on June 28.
A recent British study also estimated that nearly 350 million people worldwide are at high risk of severe coVID-19.
In addition, many people may need to be vaccinated more than once.
According to Charlie Weller, one dose of the vaccine may not complete immunity, which means a person may need multiple vaccinations.
Michael Kinch, a drug development expert at Washington University in St. Louis, United States, also said some populations may not respond to the initial vaccine.
Also of note is the question of how long the coVID-19 vaccine will provide protection.
VIP mentioned in late June that the latest research shows that coVID-19 antibodies in human body will decrease significantly over time.
Within eight weeks, antibodies in 40 percent of asymptomatic infected people drop to undetectable levels.