mRNA vaccine development for COVID-19

by ChristianKl1 min read21st Mar 20208 comments



Epistemological status:

A bunch of sources and a reasoning while reading the source. Go to the sources for the factual claims and reason about claims and say if you think I made a mistake. Join the conversation in the comments.

Between CureVac and BioNTech, two of the three companies that have platforms for mRNA vaccine production are German. It might be faster to develop new vaccines with such mRNA technology then to develop old protein based vaccines. The technology is the hope that we will get a vaccine sooner then we would get a vaccine that's produced the traditional way.

BigPharma giant Johnson & Johnson that uses a more traditional approach to developing vaccines expects to hit clinical trials only in November.

Moderna, the third company with such technology, that’s from the US, started their human trials on 16th of March. BioNTech, announced a $135 million partnership with Shanghai-based Fosun Pharmaceutical Group to co-develop its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in China. They are going to start clinical trials in late April because they can leverage Fosun’s Chinese “clinical trial, regulatory and commercial capabilities”.

In their conference call CureVac said that after talking with regulators they will only do their clinical trials in early summer. This gives the impression that the German regulatory bodies prevent them to go as fast as the Moderna trials in Seattle or BioNTech trials in China.

The EU just gave CureVac 80 million Euro funding to scale up their production capacity to be able to produce 1 billion vaccine doses in one campaign. It’s great that they fund production capacity but it would be worthwhile if EU and German regulators would also reduce the red tape so that CureVac can start human trials in other jurisdictions.

This situation looks to me like it would be beneficial if we can push EU/German regulators to cut red tape for CureVac in addition to giving money or another jurisdiction would allow them to run their human trials earlier.

(While researching this post I also created a Google Sheet that lists more COVID-19 vaccine efforts)