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Aug 01, 2020

Developments That Matter: COVID-19 Vaccine Innovators Hit the House Floor

On July 21, the House Energy & Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee held a hearing with some of the innovative biopharmaceutical companies leading the coronavirus vaccine race. The companies discussed their research and development efforts, as well as their ongoing preparations to manufacture and distribute resulting solutions.

All across the country, America’s innovation community has mobilized like never before to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Right now, our nation’s brightest scientific minds, most innovative companies, and leading universities are moving at unprecedented speed to deliver the COVID-19 treatments, vaccines, diagnostics, and cures we need.

The scope is as impressive as the speed. To date, scientists have conducted clinical trials of potential COVID-19 solutions in all 50 states, across approximately 85 percent of congressional districts.

Explore the interactive map below to see what kind of COVID-19 research is going on in your community. View the map here.

Right now, there are two vaccine candidates in Phase 3 clinical trials – one is the result of a partnership between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. The University of Oxford recently embarked on a trial with 5,000 volunteers in Brazil – a coronavirus hotspot – to test efficacy of their vaccine candidate. Preliminary results are expected as soon as October.

Just yesterday, Moderna published data in the New England Journal of Medicine which showed that their vaccine produced an immune response in a Phase 1 study. The company will begin a Phase 3 trial testing the vaccine in 30,000 participants on July 27.

Other companies are tracking closely behind.

MSD (known in the US as Merck & Co) plans to utilize its long-standing leadership in vaccine development to address COVID-19. CEO Ken Frazier recently noted that “In the last quarter century, there have only been seven truly new vaccines introduced globally at the clinical practice… MSD has four.” The company soon hopes to add a fifth with a COVID-19 vaccine. MSD is currently investigating whether its previously approved Ebola and Measles vaccines can be re-engineered to combat COVID-19.

On Monday, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, received fast track designation from the FDA for two of its four vaccine candidates, which will help speed up regulatory approval should one of them prove to be effective during their Phase 1/2 clinical trial, happening now.

And Johnson & Johnson recently selected a leading vaccine candidate and plans to begin a Phase 1/2a clinical trial in the coming weeks.

With the full innovative capacity of these companies dedicated to identifying an effective coronavirus vaccine, we remain hopeful that we will soon have an immunization to help place us on the return to a new normal in the wake of COVID-19.

–Jonathan Weinberger, Executive Vice President, Global Innovation Policy Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce