As the race to develop and commercialize a COVID-19 vaccine heats up with several competitors, Israel made its selection: Moderna’s messenger RNA-based mRNA-1273 investigational product. Officials from the Israeli Health Ministry report that the country has advanced into final negotiations to procure the mRNA-based investigational vaccine product. The company is preparing for its Phase III clinical trial and reports it could demonstrate efficacy and commence production before the end of 2020. This would be a big victory for the U.S. White House and Operation Warp Speed: President Donald Trump declared a safe and effective vaccine would be ready by January 2021. At least $483 million of U.S. government-based investment has gone to Moderna. Could Israel know something?
As reported in the Financial Post, Israeli health authorities are apparently making the first bet on the possible winner of the vaccine race.
Other investigational vaccine products in the running:
· CanSino Biologics has inked a deal nationally with Canada and is purported to be the furthest along in the race. They are conducting a Phase II study in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They are based in China.
· AstraZeneca and the Oxford vaccine are moving at a healthy pace. The U.S. government has injected $1 billion into this effort to secure access (along with Moderna as well). A Phase II trial with up to 1,090 patients is led by University of Oxford.
· Inovio Pharmaceuticals’ INO-4800 is wrapping up a sizeable Phase I study that could add great momentum for this American-based company. They have partnered with South Korea as well as a Chinese life science venture called Fosun Pharmaceutical.
· Sinovac has raised convertible debt financing and will submit a protocol for a Phase III trial in China as well as embark on a late stage study in Brazil—these should start in the summer.
· BioNTech just secured 100m Euro debt from the European Investment Bank and have inked a strategic partnership with Pfizer. A Phase II trial out of Germany includes up to 200 participants.
· CureVac has raised just received approval to start Phase I clinical trials in Germany and Belgium and has raised a sizeable 300 million Euros partnering with the German government.
· Chinese state-owned Wuhan Institute of Biological Products (Sinopharm) has developed two inactivated vaccine trials and TrialSite News continue to monitor.
Moderna may commence the critical Phase III by July and may in fact end up being number one. Israel appears to be placing such a bet.