As we hit the 10-month mark of COVID-19 restrictions in the UK, have seen the roll-out of two vaccines with several additional promising candidates on the horizon. Going into the New Year we are in a good position, with Newcastle being the first city to vaccinate all Care Home residents.
Scientists have divided coronaviruses into four sub-groupings, called alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Seven of these viruses can infect people:
- 229E (alpha)
- NL63 (alpha)
- OC43 (beta)
- HKU1 (beta
- MERS-CoV, a beta virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
- SARS-CoV, a beta virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
- SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19
Key players – vaccines being rolled-out
The collaboration between Pfizer and BioNtech was the first vaccine against a coronavirus. It is a double dose mRNA vaccine that can be stored at -20℃ for a week, for longer at -70℃.
The second vaccine that is currently being administered is the AstraZeneca and Oxford University collaboration based on previous coronavirus research. This too is a double dose vaccine that can be stored at -20℃ for two weeks. This will be the vaccine that majority of the UK population will receive.
The third vaccine to reach approval was the Moderna vaccine, an mRNA vaccine that requires storage at -70℃.
Late-stage clinical trial candidates
Other candidates include the single dose Jansen vaccine which is in phase 3 trials and the Novavax a protein-adjuvant system vaccine also currently in phase 3 clinical trials.
The Valneva vaccine is currently in phase 1/2 clinical trials which commended in December, it is a adjuvanted, whole virus, vero-cell based candidate. In April 2021 the Initial data of the Phase 1/2 clinical trial are expected and the potential regulatory approval in Q4 2021.
Sanofi and GSK use an adjuvanted recombinant protein-based vaccine that has positive data from phases 1/2 trials, the product availability is expected in Q4 2021.
Adoption in the UK
The UK has secured access to 340 million doses across four separate types of vaccine; mRNA vaccines, adenoviral vaccines, inactivated whole virus vaccines and protein adjuvant vaccines.
- 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University
- 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine
- 60 million doses of a vaccine being developed by Valneva
- 60 million doses of protein adjuvant vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi Pasteur
- 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
- 30 million doses from Janssen
- 5 million doses of the jab on offer from Moderna in the US
The number of steps that have taken to get here have required tireless work and dedication from the people involved, along with the volunteers for the clinical trials. We still face a few more initial hurdlers in terms of:
- Timelines: for the 2nd dose and for the whole nation will be inoculated
Shift work seems to have been on the increase with lab-based roles, generally to ensure social distancing but of course due to the demand in COVID-19 testing labs and manufacturing the vaccine this will be one answer – we will stay tuned with eager anticipation.
Consultant, Esmae Matthews who specialises in roles within R&D, was a key contributor to this article – visit Esmae’s profile to read more insights, and see what jobs she is currently working on, by clicking here.
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