Updated: November 21, 2020

Total Drug & Vaccine Candidates: 297 (as of September 2)

The goal of this resource is to provide a comprehensive collection of news, milestones, and updates on drug and vaccine candidates currently being developed for the COVID-19 pandemic.

This resource is based on the reporting of GEN senior news editor Alex Philippidis, who began compiling information on drug and vaccine candidates in the early weeks of the pandemic. The numbers of verified candidates ballooned rapidly from 35 in February 2020, to 60 in March, to 160 in April.

Since then, biopharmas, regulators, and academic researchers have ramped up efforts to develop and evaluate COVID-19 drug and vaccine candidates designed to vanquish the virus. The number of legitimate COVID-19 candidates is approximately divided between vaccines and drugs, with 10 vaccines now in clinical trials.

To help navigate through the potential therapeutic options for COVID-19, GEN had divided this list of candidates into four broad categories based on their developmental and (where applicable) clinical progress:

FRONT RUNNERthe most validated or touted therapeutics in development, based on advanced stages of activity, favorable data or both.

DEFINITELY MAYBE – candidates in earlier phases with the most promising partners, or more advanced candidates well under way in development that have generated uneven data.

KEEPING AN EYE ON… – interesting technology, attracting notable partners, or both, but still early days.

TOO SOON TO TELLlongshots or new entries pending additional details from their developers and/or clinical progress.

GEN categorizes the most common treatment categories by color, including antibodies, antivirals, RNA-based treatments, and vaccines. Please click any category to see the full list of candidates and information on each therapy/vaccine.

On the therapeutic side, many institutions have even studied familiar blockbuster drugs with success outside virology, in hopes that they would also prove effective against COVID-19. Among clinical trials progressing in recent months have been studies assessing Novartis’ Gilenya® (fingolimod), one examining Celebrex® (celecoxib), and even a study evaluating sildenafil citrate, the phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitor better known as Viagra®.

The top vaccines are among 34 candidates that had advanced to clinical trials as of May 11, according to the World Health Organization.

“We hope as we go along that by the end of this year, or the beginning of 2021, we will at least have an answer whether the vaccine, or vaccines plural, are safe and effective,” said Anthony S. Fauci, MD, Director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in a “conversation” with NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, posted on NIH’s website in August.  “We are now working with the companies… to start making doses before we even know whether it works or not. So that when we get to the winter in the early part of 2021, we will start to have a large number of doses that people will be able to use if it turns out to be safe and effective–the big if.”

The vaccine or vaccine that succeeds in clinical trials will still need to surmount manufacturing, distribution, cost and payer challenges before the first doses reach the market, and a world of patients waiting for them.

To accelerate development of vaccines and drugs, the NIH has launched Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV), a public-private effort through which U.S. regulators, the European Medicines Agency, and more than a dozen biopharma giants are prioritizing and accelerating clinical study of drug and vaccine candidates deemed to have short-term potential for success.

GEN will update the COVID-19 tracker as frequently as possible. Comments and suggestions are welcome: aphilippidis at genengnews dot com.

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