Potential SARS-CoV-2 & COVID-19 Vaccines


As the number of novel coronavirus infections rises daily across the globe, strategies for developing a safe and effective vaccine are rapidly moving forward.  Recently published perspective by Amanat & Kramer highlights 6 main vaccine-platforms being investigated (Table).

Amanat & Kramer (Immunity 2020)

Amanat & Kramer (Immunity 2020)

Researchers from the Precision Vaccines Program (PVP) at Boston Children’s Hospital, Levy and Dowling, estimate that more than 24 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in development globally. PVP are also designing a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, however, they are building on earlier coronavirus vaccines, learning from earlier vaccines from prior coronavirus outbreaks and making them more effective. Multiple consideration go into designing vaccines, some of which include:

  • Focusing on adjuvants: The current antigen used for vaccine development is the coronavirus spike protein, so named because it sits atop the spike of a coronavirus particle. This is the part of the virus that the immune system “remembers.” PVP’s strategy is to combine the coronavirus spike protein with adjuvants which are small molecules added to a vaccine to boost the recipient’s immune response.The team will test new adjuvants that  has been discovered in the PVP’s National Institutes of Health-funded Adjuvant Discovery Program. 
  • Age specific:The PVP plans on testing a variety of adjuvants and adjuvant combinations in human white blood cells sourced from older people. Researchers will then study the adjuvant-induced immune responses.
  • Testing in mice: The group is also studying coronavirus immune responses in a living animal model. The first mice have already been inoculated with a similar coronavirus spike protein derived from the SARS-2003 coronavirus with or without a lead adjuvant combination to get an early read on measuring an antibody response.

Some of the vaccine strategies currently in the clinical phase of development are:


Article by Naffesa Al Sheik and Cheleka AM Mpande

International Union of Immunological SocietiesUniversity of South AfricaInstitute of Infectious Disease and Molecular MedicineElizabeth Glazer Pediatric Aids Foundation