COVID-19 Vaccine: The Treatment the World is Eagerly Waiting For

Since the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 virus in China and its spread across the globe in mid-January 2020, researchers and biopharmaceutical companies worldwide are competing in a race of to find a cure. Governments of developed, developing, emerging, and under-developed nations are working at their maximum potential to contain the spread of virus and limit the rapidly increasing number of coronavirus cases. For governments, biggest hurdles in the way of handling coronavirus pandemic situation are severe disruption of economies, sharp fall of GDP, and a cunning factor called recession. These factors are worsening the situation, which in turn has compelled the national governments to resume work in government and private offices, reopening of production units, allow public gatherings, and allow retail and wholesale shops to reopen. Humanity is paying high price just to keep GDP on track, which is full of challenges and on the other hand, burgeoning recession has tied government’s hands to effectively handle coronavirus crisis.

So, How Long the Governments and People will have to Handle Coronavirus Crisis the Same Way?

COVID-19 vaccine is the answer to this question. But even at the speed of fast-tracked vaccine development process, the effective and a properly tested vaccine will take approximately 12–18 months to be prepared in abundance and to be marketed. Studies done by the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies on SARS-CoV-1, has been helping them fast-track the vaccine development process.

Gamaleya Research Institute, based in Moscow has surpassed all the other players in COVID-19 vaccine market to launch first ever COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V. This vaccine by the company was approved by the Russian Federation Ministry of Health on 11th August, 2020 and this is where concerns regarding the vaccine step in. Though Russia is ready to supply the vaccine worldwide, experts and researchers, globally, have raised a serious concern about the vaccine’s safety and efficacy as the vaccine Sputnik V, as of 24th September, 2020 has not yet entered Phase III clinical trials. Gamaleya Research Institute is being funded and supported by the Health Ministry of the Russian Federation, through which, the player conducted two small Phase I/II clinical trials on about 38 participants. Results for these small clinical trials were published in The Lancet, which shows vaccine to have good safety profile and induced strong cellular immune and humoral response in the participants. For Phase III clinical trials, the company has planned to test the vaccine candidate on about 40,000 people across 45 different medical centers in Russia, which will lead the vaccine candidate towards confirmation of high efficacy and safety.

If Sputnik V passes Phase III clinical trial, it will take the global COVID-19 vaccine market by storm. Being the only approved and marketed drug across the globe, Sputnik V will be in enormous demand by the countries which have been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis which includes India, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, and Russia itself. North America and specially the U.S. is skeptical about the performance of the candidate, as the U.S. infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci had raised question over the fast-track vaccine development approach adopted by Russia. Furthermore, in an interview with National Geographic, Fauci have raised some serious concerns regarding Russia proving safety and efficacy of vaccine candidate.

U.S. along with other nations including India, Germany, Britain, and others are demanding transparent clinical trial data over vaccines performance including its efficacy and safety. If Russia fails to satisfy these nations with its clinical trials data, the World will have to wait longer for a new vaccine candidate to prove its safety and efficacy. On the other hand, Sputnik V, Gamaleya Research Institute, and Russia will lose a forever golden chance of having to have a strong hold over the global COVID-19 vaccine market.

Countries across Europe including Spain, France, and the U.K are experiencing the second and third waves of coronavirus spread within. This is an alarming sign of how coronavirus can return to our lives and how important it is to maintain social distancing and use sanitizers and masks to protect ourselves even after elimination of coronavirus. Same as Europe, recently, New Zealand has found new patients of coronavirus after being eliminated from the country for more than 100 days. This tells us that, coronavirus can return to our lives if we do not contain it effectively.

What Does WHO, Worldwide Governmental Organizations, and Biopharmaceutical Companies are doing to Grab that Important Spot in the Global Covid-19 Vaccine Market?

Coronavirus crisis has given rise to the intense competition of finding the cure, which in turn has created some of the unprecedented partnerships in the healthcare sector, worldwide. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has signed partnership deal with more than 18 biopharmaceutical companies within OWS (Operation Warp Speed) which will ultimately help accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development process. On the other hand COVPN (COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network) has been established which successfully combines clinical trial networks funded by the various governmental organizations including the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium (IDCRC), the AIDS Clinical Trials Group, HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN), and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

For the goal to offer low-cost COVID-19 vaccines to countries, as a part of the WHO’s ACT (Access to COVID-19 Tools) Accelerator, under COVAX initiative, CEPI’s (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation) candidates from various biopharmaceutical companies including AstraZeneca/University of Oxford, University of Hong Kong, University of Queensland/CS, Institut Pasteur/Merck/Themis, CureVac, Inovio, Moderna, Clover Biopharmaceuticals, and Novavax are working together with vaccine manufacturers. Under OWS, to offer funding, the U.S. government has chosen 3 highly potential candidates The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s AZD1222, Pfizer and BioNTech's BNT162, and Moderna’s mRNA-1273. It is an activity expected to fuel the run towards finding a coronavirus cure.

How Will Global COVID-19 Vaccine Market Perform at Launch?

Players in the global COVID-19 vaccine market are investing heavily in research and development with ongoing pressure of providing the vaccine at affordable prices. This is expected to hamper the overall market growth to some extent after the launch of properly tested vaccine. Initially, the market will be majorly captured by the first launched potential candidate. With the launch of more highly effective and safe vaccines, regional products will have high influence over the market, as every developing and developed nation is competing in the run for coronavirus cure.

Over the years, with the launch of preventive vaccines, the global COVID-19 vaccine market will settle down with a stable Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), which will deflect to some extent year-over-year. Till then, prevention by using masks and sanitizers is the ultimate solution to stay away from reach of SARS-CoV-2 virus. It will take us months to get used to the coronavirus crisis around us, years to consider coronavirus as a part of our lives, and decades to recover from the recession and economic losses across the globe.