Dynavax and Sinovac Partner to Develop COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate

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California-based Dynavax Technologies has entered the race alongside Sinovac Biotech to develop a vaccine candidate against COVID-19. The two companies will evaluate the combination of Sinovac’s chemically inactivated coronavirus vaccine candidate, with Dynavax’s advanced adjuvant, CpG 1018.

Dynavax’s CpG 1018 is the adjuvant used in its Heplisav-B [Hepatitis B Vaccine (Recombinant), Adjuvanted], an adult hepatitis B vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2017. Earlier this month, Dynavax donated 10,000 doses of Heplisav-B to help protect healthcare professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 response against hepatitis B, a deadly virus spread through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids, which can live on surfaces for at least seven days.

The use of an adjuvant in a vaccine is of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it may reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose. That will allow more vaccine doses to be produced, which therefore contributes to the protection of people. Dynavax developed CpG 1018 to provide an increased vaccine immune response, which it has seen in Heplisav-B. CpG 1018 provides a well‑developed technology and a significant safety database, potentially accelerating the development of a coronavirus vaccine, the company said. Additionally, CpG 1018 is manufactured using a highly automated, robust, scalable process capable of producing the large quantities required in a pandemic, Dynavax added in its announcement. China-based Sinovac has developed multiple vaccines, including vaccines against enterovirus71 (EV71), hepatitis A and B, seasonal influenza, H5N1 pandemic influenza (avian flu), H1N1 influenza (swine flu), varicella vaccine and mumps.

Ryan Spencer, chief executive officer of Dynavax, the collaborative approach on the development of a vaccine with Sinovac, could lead to a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19, which has infected more than 2 million people across the globe, including 639,733 in the United States, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard.

“The breadth of the global healthcare community’s efforts to develop an effective vaccine to prevent COVID-19 has been enabled by the prior research and investment in infectious disease understanding and prevention,” Spencer said in a statement. “A collaborative approach across multiple technology platforms enables us to demonstrate the potential for our adjuvant to lead to a safe and effective vaccine to prevent COVID-19.  We hope the prior clinical experience and significant safety database of CpG 1018 will enable a rapid development process for a coronavirus vaccine.

There are more than 70 vaccine candidates in development, according to a recent report from the World Health Organization. Among those include a handful that has already entered clinical trials, including CanSino’s Phase II trial assessing its Adenovirus Type 5 Vector, Ad5-nCoV.

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