With more people falling ill to COVID-19 every day, the need for a vaccine increases. Luckily, researchers may have some solutions.

Scientists search tirelessly for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Scientists have searched tirelessly for a COVID-19 vaccine. Image by
cottonbro from Pexels.

Although COVID-19 has only been around for a few months, its effect is disastrous. As infection rates rise, the clock seems to tick faster in the race to find a vaccine. Scientists are working 24/7. There have even been some interesting helpers in the hunt for a vaccine.

The World Health Organization cited over 100 possible vaccines for COVID-19. Only eight have made it into the final running. Four are in the U.S. and Europe. The other four are in China. Here is what you need to know about the four vaccine candidates in the U.S. and Europe.

Vaccine: Oxford University-AstraZeneca

Oxford researchers successfully vaccinated rhesus macaque monkeys for COVID-19.
Oxford researchers successfully vaccinated rhesus macaque monkeys for COVID-19. Image by Magda Ehlers from Pexels.

Researchers at Oxford University have partnered with pharma powerhouse, AstraZeneca. One professor stated that he hopes to have at least one million doses of their vaccine by September of this year.

This vaccine went into Phase I volunteer human trials in several English locations recently. As far as the efficacy, this potential vaccine has successfully prevented COVID-19 in rhesus macaque monkeys.

The AstraZeneca vaccine works by using a weakened version of a similar virus: the adenovirus. This virus is being used to deliver genetic material from the coronavirus to the human body. The body then creates an immune response.

Vaccine: Moderna-NIH

Moderna has expedited their COVID-19 vaccine process.
Moderna has expedited their COVID-19 vaccine process. Image by Retha Ferguson from Pexels.

Biotech company, Moderna, has partnered with the National Institute of Health (NIH) on a vaccine. They recently announced the beginning of Phase II human trials with 600 participants. The FDA has given the group a “fast track” clearance to expedite the process.

Moderna’s CEO noted the process is moving quicker than expected. They believe vaccine manufacturing could begin as early as July of this year. This vaccine works differently than the AstraZeneca version. Instead, it uses messenger RNA (mRNA) to deliver COVID-19 DNA to the body and generate an immune response.

Vaccine: Pfizer-BioNTech

Pfizer hopes to have a COVID-19 vaccine in production soon.
Pfizer hopes to have a COVID-19 vaccine in production soon. Image by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels.

Another vaccine comes from a partnership between Pfizer and German company, BioNTech. Actually, they’re testing four versions of their mRNA vaccine to see which works best.

The company recently announced Phase I human trials with 360 participants. Pfizer’s chief scientific officer stated that they hope to have a vaccine in mass production later this year, with even wider spread production in October 2021. Pfizer has already selected the manufacturing sites for its vaccine in Belguim and three U.S. states.

Vaccine: Inovio

Inovio takes a different approach with their COVID-19 vaccine.
Inovio takes a different approach with their COVID-19 vaccine. Image by Gustavo Fring from Pexels.

Biotech company, Inovio, is using DNA instead of RNA with their vaccine. The company says their vaccine is safer and can be produced much faster than others. However, a handheld electrical device is needed to help the vaccine enter human cells.

Inovio has collected 40 people for their Phase I human trials. They expect to have initial results mid-June. If all goes well, they expect the first public doses to be available by the end of the year.

It seems like there is no end in sight with the COVID-19 outbreak. Our normal lives stay on hold as more people get sick. The good news is, researchers are working on a solution. It may take until early next year to get a public COVID-19 vaccine, but we all need to hang in there until then.