Sports,,, they’re BACK. But over the past four months sans sports in the U.S., I’ve primarily done three things: watch European footy, stare forlornly at walls, and start following vaccines like they’re club teams I’m rooting for.
Now, let’s start with the obvious. The stakes for COVID-19 vaccine development are at least marginally higher than those involved with Javy Baez’s chase for his long overdue MVP crown. And more importantly, there’s no one I’m rooting against in the race for a vaccine. The only way out of this post-apocalyptic hellscape we call Tuesday is with a safe, effective, and widely distributed vaccine. This is serious stuff, and we should all be hoping one of these vaccines works out.
That’s absolutely not gonna stop me from power-ranking the potential* vaccines:
1. The Oxford/AstraZeneca Ayzees: Folks, this is what we mean when we talk about an elite vaccine. It’s already in Phase III trials, and Phase I/II showed it delivered those antibodies we all crave with no negative side effects. But the real differentiator here is the timing and scale. AstraZeneca has said if all goes well, emergency doses (for specific high-risk individuals, not for you) could be available in October—and that they could ramp up production for two billion doses if approved. That’s far and away the highest number of any contender, and it puts the Ayzees in a tier of their own.
2. The Moderna Theranoses: This vaccine is being developed with the NIH and already, Dr. Fauci has lauded its Phase I/II results and Phase III began last week. The early results are extremely promising, but haters remain caught up on things like “Moderna having never brought a product to market in its history as a company” or “that time the Moderna CEO told Trump we’d have a vaccine in a few months… in March.” Fortunately, we’re not here to hate. Company reputation aside, in Fauci we trust.
3. The Pfizer Pfighting T Cells: Big pharma, regrettably, delivers again. Phase III has just begun, after Phase I/II found not only some delectable antibodies but a nice little dose of T cells too—albeit with some moderate side effects. Pfizer gets big ups for promising to deliver 100 million doses by December 2020 if approved and 1.3 billion doses by December 2021. So why are they not higher? Pfizer has already signed a $2 billion deal with the Trump administration to provide doses of this vaccine, and it’s hard to imagine this president signing on to anything that could improve public health.
4. The Sinopharm Chairmans: It wouldn’t be too surprising if Wuhan, the original epicenter of the pandemic (before Scottsdale swooped in to steal the title), produced the vaccine. This one’s in Phase III and showed promising Phase I/II results, with Chinese state media reporting the state-run research company could be distributing the vaccine widely by year’s end. And that’s where we have to dock this Chinese state-run company: sorry if it triggers Ted Cruz, but sometimes I do not believe that the Chinese government is telling the truth.
5. The Sinovac Stingy Syringes: A promising option out of China, this time from privately owned Sinovac Biotech. Phase III trials are running in July now, but the company really loses points on manufacturing capabilities. They’ve promised the ability to generate 100 million doses per year, which is just not the type of offensive production anyone’s looking for at this point in the game.
6. The Johnson & Johnson Baby Wipes: Apparently the company in charge of ensuring tear-free bathtime for babies is also in charge of our shared survival as a species, which is very cool and good. Anyway, this trial just moved into Phase I/II, but they say they can produce a billion doses in 2021, if approved, so they earn a spot on the list.
7. The CanSinoBIO Cadets: Another Chinese candidate, this vaccine has flown through Phase I/II like many others. It would probably be higher on the list if it weren’t for the fact that instead of Phase III, they’re just kind of… testing it on the Chinese military. And here at Left On Read, we have recently decided we are AGAINST involuntary medical trials. We will not apologize for this.
8. Whatever The Fuck Russia’s Doing: Russia says it’s got a vaccine ready for approval this month, and it will begin distributing to healthcare workers and teachers shortly thereafter. I hope they do! But considering they’ve released no details, proof, trials, or evidence, I have more doubts than the President when he’s informed of something called a “Tiffany.”
9. The Murdoch Propping Gandas: Not only is this vaccine being developed by something called the Murdoch Children’s Research Hospital, but it’s not even supposed to be a full immunity-inducing vaccine. It’s just supposed to kind of help or something. I’m mad about it, and I’m mad at Rupert Murdoch—for this and literally everything else about him.
*As of June 1, there were 157 potential vaccines in trials. Using the relegation model, I only ranked the top flight vaccines—those in Phase III or which have shown the biggest promise in Phase II.