Surveys Provide Mixed Results on COVID-19 Vaccine Hopes


Expectations that a vaccine against COVID-19 will be available within a year’s time are mixed, based on recent surveys conducted by BioSpace, as well as the analytics company GlobalData.

In a recent BioSpace survey with biopharma professionals, an overwhelming majority of respondents, 65%, said it will be unlikely a vaccine against COVID-19 will be ready by the end of 2020. Vaccine candidates went into development in January and February when the genetic sequencing of COVID-19 was first known. Vaccine development typically takes several years to develop, which is why the majority of professionals believe it will take longer than the rosy outlook of 12 months. In the BioSpace survey, set to be released later this week, 65% of respondents had little hope of a vaccine being available by year’s end, while 18% held out hope. Another 17% were unsure, according to the results.

This morning, GlobalData released results of a survey that were much more hopeful, but the analytics group cautioned against that optimism, calling expectations of a vaccine to be developed by the end of 2020 “unrealistic.” Following a survey of 1,561 readers, GlobalData reported that its readers were optimistic that a vaccine will be developed by the end of the year. Survey results showed that a strong majority (80%) were optimistic about the development of a vaccine, with 52% being very confident, 28% somewhat confident, while only 20% expressed no confidence at all. While the analytics group’s readership is hopeful, the organization itself sought to tamp down those expectations.

Michael Breen, associate director of Infectious Diseases at GlobalData, said the amount of time dedicated to research and development of the vaccine candidates already in the clinics has been “substantially shorter” than other vaccines that have entered clinical trials.

“Part of the reason these vaccines were able to enter Phase I studies so quickly is because they rely on new vaccine technologies, which can be developed rapidly, relative to older technologies,” Breen said in a statement.  “However, no vaccine using these technologies has ever been commercialized and data supporting their efficacy is thin, thus enthusiasm surrounding their likelihood of success may be met with disappointment.”

Even if a vaccine does prove to be successful in the clinic, Breen added that there are still hurdles to overcome, including the manufacturing and distribution of the medication. Those can cause increased delays in the availability of any vaccine, Breen said. An additional concern regarding the availability of a vaccine will be any recommendations associated with it. Until there is widespread availability, Breen said a vaccine developed in the United States may initially be recommended for older patients and those who are deemed at increased risk. Younger patients may not be in-line to receive the vaccine right off the bat, he said.

According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 70 vaccine candidates under development for the disease. Most of those are in preclinical stages but there are a few that have progressed into human trials, including one under development by CanSino that has been moved into Phase II. An Oxford University-developed vaccine candidate is expected to be tested in more than 6,000 patients next month. If the vaccine proves effective, Oxford’s Jenner Institute, which is focused on vaccine development, believes it could begin producing doses by early fall. Earlier this month, former GlaxoSmithKline head Sir Andrew Witty was tapped to co-lead an $8 billion WHO effort to develop a vaccine against COVID-19.

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