South Africa: COVID-19 - Clinical Trials Steam Ahead in the Race to Find a Vaccine

Coronavirus testing (file photo).

An effective vaccine against Covid-19 remains both a chimera and the Holy Grail for the global biotech industry. But while the process of developing a vaccine, as well as antivirals and new tests, is a complex process, there is frenetic work under way to find a breakthrough.

NB: The author declares a conflict of interest as he is employed by Cape Bio Pharms.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced the coronavirus pandemic on 11 March 2020. Globally, as of writing, there are 626 unique Covid-19 therapeutic and vaccine candidates in development, 223 of which are being tested in clinical trials.

Given this unprecedented response from the global biotechnology industry, why are we still in "lockdown", "sheltering in place", and "social distancing"? Why, in biotech's so-called "finest hour", is there still no treatment effective enough to embolden our leaders to institute a safe and deliberate return to economic and societal normality?

To address these questions, it is important first to examine the processes of drug, vaccine, and medical device production, and then to investigate the avenues that lead to consumer availability.

The development pipeline

New drug therapies or vaccine candidates developed in university or private laboratories are first tested in a...

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