The Trump administration has reportedly selected five COVID-19 vaccine candidates from a list of 14 to be evaluated under Operation Warp Speed. The five frontrunners are being developed by Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Merck and Pfizer.
An official announcement from HHS is expected next week as the administration continues to strive to have a vaccine available by January 2021.
Moderna and AstraZeneca currently have potential vaccines in phase 2 studies. AstraZeneca received $1.2 billion under Operation Warp Speed last month to help finance a large phase 3 trial this summer in the U.S. that will enroll an estimated 30,000 participants (DID, May 22).
Merck and Pfizer are both developing multiple vaccines through collaborations. Merck is developing a vaccine with the nonprofit research organization IAVI (the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative) using the same technology as the company’s Ebola Zaire vaccine, Ervebo.
Merck has also acquired a specialty vaccine company Themis, which is developing a COVID-19 vaccine (DID, May 27).
Pfizer is developing multiple mRNA vaccines under its collaboration with German drugmaker BioNTech. The companies began testing the vaccines in the U.S. last month (DID, May 6). It is not yet known which vaccine has been chosen.
Johnson & Johnson identified its vaccine candidate in March and entered into a $1 billion partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop the vaccine. It has not yet begun clinical testing (DID, March 30). — Jordan Williams