WASHINGTON (WPRI) — While some pharmaceutical and biotech companies have been optimistic about getting a coronavirus vaccine on the market by the end of the year or early next year, one company says it could have its vaccine ready in two months.
Five pharmaceutical and biotech companies with vaccines in development to protect against the virus that causes COVID-19 virtually testified before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee Tuesday.
Lawmakers heard from representatives from Johnson & Johnson , Moderna Inc , Pfizer Inc, and Merck & Co Inc on a timeline when the public can expect a safe, effective vaccine.
AstraZeneca is partnering with researchers at the University of Oxford to develop its vaccine. Researchers say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot.
Dr. Mene Pangalos serves as the executive vice president, of BioPharmaceuticals R&D with AstraZeneca. He told Rep. Diane Degette, D-Colorado, he believes if AstraZeneca’s vaccine is approved, it would be available at the end of the year on an emergency basis.
“If we have efficacy data, we hope that we’ll have them anytime from September onwards,” Pangalos said.
Last Tuesday Moderna Inc. reported its experimental vaccine, developed in part by Dr. Anthony Fauci’s colleagues at the National Institutes of Health, caused an immune response in the early stages of its trial, which began in March.
Moderna’s president, Dr. Stephen Hoge, said he believes the Massachusetts based biotech company’s vaccine will be successful, though he is “cautiously optimistic.”
The company is slated to begin Phase 3 of its vaccine trial with 30,000 volunteers next week, and Hoge says he’s encouraged by the trial’s progress.
“We would hope in the fall or towards the end of the year we would have data that we could submit to the FDA for them to make a determination on whether we are approved,” Hoge said. “We would also hope at that point to have millions of doses of vaccine available.”
Monday, Pfizer announced its vaccine elicited robust specific antibody and T cell responses, both of which are considered by experts as key to a vaccine ensuring protection against disease.
John Young is Pfizer’s chief business officer spoke to the timeline of the vaccine, which is currently in Phase 1/2.
“We have a line of sight and a clear, critical path to be able to deliver up to 100 million doses of commercial scale vaccine products in 2020, and up to 1.3 billion doses of our vaccine in 2021,” Young said before Congress Tuesday.
Johnson & Johnson
Dr. Macaya Douoguih is the head of clinical development and medical affairs with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Vaccines. Douoguih says the company is still in the process of designing its Phase Three trials.
“We’re targeting to at least have results by early 2021, as well as a hundred million doses by the end of March,” Douoguih said Tuesday.
Dr. Julie Gerberding serves as the executive vice president and chief patient officer at Merck. She says the race is on not against each other, but against the virus, and Merck is pursuing two “promising vaccines.”
“We expect to be in clinical trials imminently for both of our products, but we would not expect to have a licensed product until 2021 at the earliest,” Gerberding said.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the United States recorded more than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths Tuesday for the first time in two weeks.
In a Skype interview Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Americans should get the coronavirus vaccine as soon as one becomes available.
“I would not wait to see if one is better than another, because the very fact that it gets approved by the FDA means that it is good enough to protect you,” Fauci said.
“Relative percentage of how good it is going to be, you may get one vaccine that is a bit better than the other, but I would say some protection from a vaccine is certainly better than no protection,” Fauci added.