The Crowded Horse Race for Covid Vaccines: UAB Riding Altimmune

Altimmune Inc., a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company in Gaithersburg, Maryland, announced, July 13, positive results from the preclinical studies of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate AdCOVID, which is being tested at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In the multi-billion dollar sweepstakes for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, the Altimmune/UAB candidate is among the leading 62 percent of 72 vaccine candidates in the running. See the scorecard below.

The studies showed strong serum neutralizing activity and potent mucosal immunity in the respiratory tract, the company said. AdCOVID is a single-dose vaccine candidate that is delivered by an intranasal spray.

Altimmune said on June 29 it intends to initiate manufacturing of AdCOVID in July, with a Phase I clinical trial that is expected to begin in the fourth quarter, October through December.

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Phase I trials are tests on human patients, aimed at finding the best dose of a new drug with the fewest side effects. If a drug is found to be safe enough, it can be tested in a phase II clinical trial.

AdCOVID uses a nasal delivery method called NasoShield. The company is now conducting clinical trials on an Anthrax vaccine that uses NasoShield. The anthrax vaccine candidate is being developed under a $133.7 million contract with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services that administers money to companies developing treatments, tests and vaccines.

Beyond that anthrax candidate, BARDA has pledged more than $2.2 billion in deals with five vaccine manufacturers for the coronavirus and about $359 million toward potential coronavirus treatments. The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act designated $3.5 billion for BARDA Covid-19 research.

To keep track of the more than 200 potential therapeutic treatments and vaccines in development for Covid-19, you definitely need a scorecard, and a good place to start is the one provided by Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, which lists the Altimmune/UAB vaccine at this page and presents its method of keeping score at the bottom of that page.

There are 72 Covid-19 vaccines listed, graded into four categories: Front Runner (9), Definitely Maybe (5), Keeping an Eye On (31), and Too soon to Tell (27).

The Altimmune/UAB vaccine is graded “Keeping an Eye On.”

Altimmune has also been developing intranasal vaccine candidates for other respiratory pathogens, including a seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccine.

Altimmune Inc. is a public company whose stock, ALT, trades on the NASDAQ market. Since March, its stock has risen from $1.51 to $27.84.

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