8 Biotechs With Coronavirus Vaccines In Development

The outbreak of COVID-19 caused by the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is roiling the global economy. The pandemic has caused more than 6,500 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

About 35 vaccine candidates with different modes of action are in development for COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization.

The following are coronavirus vaccine candidates in development along with the sponsor, vaccine type and stage of development:

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc INO

  • Type of Vaccine: DNA plasmid vaccine
  • Stage of Development: Preclinical

Inovio has received funding from multiple agencies for developing INO-4800 and an intradermal delivery device for the vaccine. An accelerated timeline provided by the company points toward INO-4800 entering clinics by April. The company hopes to make available 1 million doses of the vaccine by end of 2020.

Applied DNA Sciences Inc APDN & Takis Biotech

  • Type of Vaccine: Linear DNA vaccine
  • Stage of Development: Preclinical

After revealing Feb. 7 plans to expand an existing collaboration for a polymerase chain reaction-produced linear DNA, Applied DNA said March 2 the companies have designed four vaccine candidates for preclinical testing. Takis will likely begin animal testing in the second quarter of 2020.

Johnson & Johnson's JNJ Janssen Unit

  • Type of Vaccine: non-replicating viral vector
  • Stage of Development: Preclinical

J&J said Feb. 11 it is expanding collaboration with Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, with the latter providing funding for accelerated development of the vaccine candidate.

J&J said the vaccine program will leverage Janssen's AdVac and PER.C6 technologies to rapidly upscale production of optimal vaccine candidates. J&J has the experience of working on similar vaccine candidates for viral threats such as Zika and Ebola.

The company said last week that it has entered into a collaboration with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to support development of a vaccine for COVID-19. The company and hospital have embarked on preclinical testing of multiple vaccine prospects, targeting the shortlisting of one by the end of March and initiation of a Phase 1 clinical study of by the end of 2020. 

Altimmune Inc ALT

  • Type of Vaccine: non-replicating viral vector
  • Stage of Development: Preclinical

Altimmune said in late February said it has completed the design and synthesis of a novel single-dose intranasal vaccine using its proprietary technology to protect against COVID-19. The vaccine candidate is based on the same platform as its influenza vaccine candidate NasoVAX, according to the company. 

Altimmune said it expects to begin clinical testing as early as August.

See also: How Close Are Biotechs To Bringing A COVID-19 Treatment To Market?

Novavax, Inc. NVAX

  • Type of Vaccine: nanoparticle vaccine 
  • Stage of Development: Preclinical

Novavax is evaluating multiple nanoparticle vaccine candidates in animal models, the company said Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings report. 

It also plans to use its proprietary Matrix-M adjuvant with its vaccine candidate to enhance immune responses.

The company expects to begin Phase 1 testing in May or June. Novavax said it has received an initial funding award of $4 million from CEPI and is in talks to secure additional funding.

Moderna Inc MRNA

  • Type of Vaccine: mRNA
  • Stage of Development: Preclinical

Moderna created a splash early on when it said Feb. 24 that it has shipped vials of MRNA-1273 to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to be used in a planned Phase 1 study in the U.S.

The company said it delivered the vaccine candidate from its cGMP facility in 42 days after sequence selection.

There has been no further update from either the company or NIAID on the start of clinical trials.

Vaxart Inc VXRT

  • Type of Vaccine: oral vaccine
  • Stage of Development: Preclinical

Vaxart said in late January it plans to generate vaccine candidates based on the published genome of the new coronavirus and evaluate these in preclinical models.


  • Type of Vaccine: mRNA
  • Stage of Development: Preclinical

BioNTech said it plans to start clinical testing of its vaccine candidate BNT162 for COVID-19 in late April. It also announced a partnership with Fosun Pharma to develop the vaccine in China and said it is in talks with Pfizer Inc. PFE regarding development of the vaccine outside China.

Other Companies, Institutions Working On Coronavirus 

  • GlaxoSmithKline plc GSK and the Chinese biotech Clover Biopharma: Clover's protein based vaccine candidate S-Trimer is to be tested with Glaxo's pandemic adjuvant system (preclinical testing). 
  • Sanofi SA SNY: working with BARDA to develop a COVID-19 vaccine using its recombinant DNA platform (preclinical testing). 
  • Tonix Pharmaceuticals Holding Corp TNXP with Southern Research: TNX-1800, a modified version of its Tonix's horsepox virus vaccine for subcutaneous administration (preclinical testing). 
  • Geovax Labs Inc GOVX and Wuhan, China-based BravoVax: GeoVax is using its GV-MVA-VLP vaccine platform to design and construct vaccine candidates using genetic sequences from COVID-19 virus (preclinical testing). 
  • Arcturus Therapeutics Ltd ARCT: The company is working with the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore to develop a vaccine candidate using its proprietary Self-Transcribing and Replicating RNA technology (preclinical testing). 
  • University of Oxford: The university is working with Italian manufacturer Advent Srl to produce the first batch of a vaccine candidate codenamed ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 for clinical testing (preclinical testing).
  • CureVac: The company said March 3 it is selecting the most suitable mRNA vaccine candidates from several constructs and it is also coordinating with the German Paul Ehrlich Institute for accelerated clinical development of these candidate. The company expects to start clinical trials in early summer.

Related Links: How The COVID-19 Outbreak Is Benefiting Biotech Investors

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