last updated September 12th, 2020

As of September 12th, there are reportedly 211 Covid-19 vaccines in development, and of the information we have thus far, we know that at least two of the leading candidates are being developed using aborted fetal cells.

Here we will do our best to track the development of those vaccines as we learn more about them.

The Alchymist, in Search of the Philosopher’s Stone
Joseph Wright of Derby, 1771

ModernaHEK 293 aborted fetal cell line.

Moderna uses the CoV-2 spike (S) in their Covid-19 vaccine, which in turn is made with HEK-293 cells.

An mRNA Vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 — Preliminary Report

The candidate vaccine mRNA-1273 is a lipid nanoparticle–encapsulated, nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (mRNA)–based vaccine that encodes the SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) glycoprotein stabilized in its prefusion conformation.”

SARS-CoV-2 S Protein Glycosylation

Crispin team expressed and purified recombinant SARS-CoV-2 S protein successfully from HEK293F cells.

SARS-CoV-2 (2019-nCoV) Spike Glycoprotein-S1, HEK293 Recombinant

Regulatory status: RUO
Type: Recombinant protein
Source: HEK293
Other names: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 spike glycoprotein S1, 2019 novel coronavirus S1 protein, SARS-CoV-2 S1 subunit, COVID-19

Moderna Ships mRNA Vaccine Against Novel Coronavirus (mRNA-1273) for Phase 1 Study

Published: Feb. 24, 2020 at 6:04 p.m. ET

“mRNA-1273 delivered from Company’s cGMP facility in 42 days from sequence selection”

Coronavirus vaccine maker Moderna announces plans for phase 2 trial

April 28th, 2020 at 10:08 PM

“- Moderna, one of the first companies to start clinical trials on humans for a coronavirus vaccine, is looking to move to phase 2.

– The mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate will be given to a larger cohort of patients in the second quarter of 2020 if regulators approve the next phase of the trial.

– Moderna previously said that the vaccine might be ready for emergency use as soon as this fall.”

Early results from Moderna coronavirus vaccine trial show participants developed antibodies against the virus

By Elizabeth Cohen, Senior Medical Correspondent
Updated 12:00 PM ET, Mon May 18, 2020

“These early data come from the Phase 1 clinical trial, which typically studies a small number of people and focuses on whether a vaccine is safe and elicits an immune response.

The results of the study, which was led by the National Institutes Health, have not been peer reviewed or published in a medical journal.”

“The US Food and Drug Administration has cleared the company to begin Phase 2 trials, which typically involve several hundred of people, and Moderna plans to start large-scale clinical trials, known as Phase 3 trials, in July, which typically involve tens of thousands of people.Offit said before the pandemic, vaccine developers would typically test out their product in thousands of people before moving on to Phase 3, but that Moderna is “extremely unlikely” to have vaccinated that many by July, since they’ve only vaccinated dozens so far.”

“In the Moderna study, three participants developed fever and other flu-like symptoms when they received the vaccine at a dose of 250 micrograms. Moderna anticipates the Phase 3 study on dosage will be between 25 and 100 micrograms.”

Johnson & JohnsonPER.C6 aborted fetal cell line.

Johnson & Johnson Announces a Lead Vaccine Candidate for COVID-19; Landmark New Partnership with U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; and Commitment to Supply One Billion Vaccines Worldwide for Emergency Pandemic Use

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., March 30, 2020

Johnson & Johnson and BARDA Together Commit More than $1 Billion to Novel Coronavirus Vaccine Research and Development; Company Expects to Initiate Phase 1 Human Clinical Studies of Vaccine Candidate at Latest by September 2020
Johnson & Johnson Will Establish New U.S. Vaccine Manufacturing Capabilities and Additional Production Capacity Outside the U.S. to Begin Production at Risk to Help Ensure Global Vaccine Supply

Sanofi Pasteur – fallworm cell line.

HHS Engages Sanofi’s Recombinant Technology for 2019 Novel Coronavirus Vaccine

February 18, 2020

“Racing to develop a vaccine against the 2019 novel coronavirus, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response has engaged Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines global business unit of Sanofi.”

Inovio – INO-4800 DNA Vaccine & CELLECTRA 3PSP

The Gates funded project is both a new vaccine, AND a new delivery system.

Inovo’s INO-4800 DNA COVIC-19 vaccine is NOT delivered by syringe, but by an injection machine called the CELLECTRA 3PSP. The device has three needles. One that injects the DNA vaccine, and two others that provide electrical stimuli to force the patient’s cell membranes open so that the foreign DNA in the vaccine can enter at approximately a thousand times the rate that the cell would typically allow.

A potential coronavirus vaccine funded by Bill Gates is set to begin testing in people, with the first patient expected to get it today

Apr 6, 2020, 9:46 AM

Healthy volunteers in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Missouri, will begin testing an experimental coronavirus vaccine starting this week.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, a small biotech in Pennsylvania, received regulatory clearance to begin testing.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other nonprofits have poured funding into Inovio’s vaccine project.

The biotech said it expects to have early safety data by late summer and aims to produce 1 million doses by the end of 2020.

INOVIO Receives New $5 Million Grant to Accelerate Scale Up of Smart Delivery Device for Its COVID-19 Vaccine

March 12, 2020

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa., March 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — INOVIO Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:INO) announced today that it has received a new $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the testing and scale up of CELLECTRA® 3PSP proprietary smart device for the intradermal delivery of INO-4800, a DNA vaccine for COVID-19. INO-4800 is in preclinical studies and is planned to advance into Phase 1 clinical trials in the U.S. in April with up to $9 million funding from CEPI. INOVIO plans to accelerate the testing and scale up of the CELLECTRA 3PSP devices to support large scale manufacturing of INO-4800 doses by the end of 2020.

Two videos from Inovio Pharmaceuticals on how their vaccines, and the devices used to administer the vaccines, work:

How Inovio’s DNA Vaccines are Delivered
Inovio Pharmaceuticals
Jun 18, 2014
Inovio Technology Platform – MOA
Inovio Pharmaceuticals
Jan 15, 2019

Chinese Sinovac BiotechPiCoVaccVero Cells, African Green Monkey

Rapid development of an inactivated vaccine for SARS-CoV-2

April 17, 2020

One Sentence Summary A purified inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus vaccine candidate (PiCoVacc) confers complete protection in non-human primates against SARS-CoV-2 strains circulating worldwide by eliciting potent humoral responses devoid of immunopathology”

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has brought about an unprecedented crisis, taking a heavy toll on human health, lives as well as the global economy. There are no SARS-CoV-2-specific treatments or vaccines available due to the novelty of this virus. Hence, rapid development of effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 is urgently needed. Here we developed a pilot-scale production of a purified inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus vaccine candidate (PiCoVacc), which induced SARS-CoV-2-specific neutralizing antibodies in mice, rats and non-human primates. These antibodies potently neutralized 10 representative SARS-CoV-2 strains, indicative of a possible broader neutralizing ability against SARS-CoV-2 strains circulating worldwide. Immunization with two different doses (3μg or 6 μg per dose) provided partial or complete protection in macaques against SARS-CoV-2 challenge, respectively, without any antibody-dependent enhancement of infection. Systematic evaluation of PiCoVacc via monitoring clinical signs, hematological and biochemical index, and histophathological analysis in macaques suggests that it is safe. These data support the rapid clinical development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for humans.”

A promising coronavirus vaccine already works on monkeys

April 24th, 2020 at 12:10 PM

– A promising coronavirus vaccine candidate from China was able to protect monkeys from developing COVID-19 symptoms after being exposed to the virus.

– High doses of the vaccine worked better than a lower dose candidate, but even the latter led to a positive immune response.

– The vaccine has just started human trials, with phase II expected to begin in mid-May.

Rapid development of an inactivated vaccine candidate for SARS-CoV-2


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome–coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has resulted in an unprecedented public health crisis. There are currently no SARS-CoV-2-specific treatments or vaccines available due to the novelty of the virus. Hence, rapid development of effective vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are urgently needed. Here we developed a pilot-scale production of a purified inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus vaccine candidate (PiCoVacc), which induced SARS-CoV-2-specific neutralizing antibodies in mice, rats and non-human primates. These antibodies neutralized 10 representative SARS-CoV-2 strains, suggesting a possible broader neutralizing ability against SARS-CoV-2 strains. Three immunizations using two different doses (3 μg or 6 μg per dose) provided partial or complete protection in macaques against SARS-CoV-2 challenge, respectively, without observable antibody-dependent enhancement of infection. These data support clinical development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for humans.”

University of Oxford – ChAdOx1 nCoV-19HEK 293 aborted fetal cell line.

Promising coronavirus vaccine could be ready by September

April 27th, 2020 at 5:01 PM

– A coronavirus vaccine being developed by Oxford University scientists entered Phase I clinical trials last week and could be ready to roll out by September.

– Six rhesus monkeys who were inoculated with the vaccine and exposed to heavy quantities of the novel coronavirus were still healthy 28 days later.

– 5,000 more participants will join the vaccine clinical trials in May.

University of Oxford coronavirus vaccine: everything we know so far

A million doses of their experimental Covid-19 vaccine could be ready as early as September, Oxford scientists say

“Almost all of that funding will be going on the clinical trial development programme to make sure that we can fully test the vaccine in healthy younger adults,” Prof Pollard told Sky News following the Government’s announcement.

“Then we’ll move on to test the vaccine in other age groups,” he said.

Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said “several hundred” Britons have now been given the experimental jab, with hopes that “signals” about whether it works could emerge by mid-June.

Just two weeks ago, Prof Pollard and his team said they expected to produce a million doses of their experimental vaccine as early as September; months ahead of the official 12- to 18-month timeline quoted by experts around the world.

While early stage – or phase one – human trials are underway, plans for large-scale production capacity are already being put in place “at risk”.

This means that the shots will be produced in large numbers at risk of being useless if trials show they do not work.

A Novel Chimpanzee Adenovirus Vector with Low Human Seroprevalence: Improved Systems for Vector Derivation and Comparative Immunogenicity

“This study describes the derivation of a new vaccine vector based on a chimpanzee adenovirus, Y25,”

“The wild type chimpanzee adenovirus isolate Y25 was originally obtained from William Hillis, John Hopkins University of Medicine. The virus was passaged in HEK293A cells (Invitrogen, Cat. R705-07) and purified by CsCl gradient ultracentrifugation as previously described.”

“These findings support the continued development of new chimpanzee adenovirus vectors, including ChAdY25, for clinical use.”

“The low seroprevalence of vector neutralising antibodies against Y25 suggests that new vectors based on this virus are likely to be efficacious in a clinical setting. To this end, vector ChAdY25-E has been renamed ChAdOX1 for use in forthcoming clinical trials.”

Pfizer – BNT 162HEK 293 aborted fetal cell line

Pfizer/BioNTech uses the CoV-2 spike glycoprotein in their Covid-19 vaccine, which in turn is made with HEK-293 cells.


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

First participants dosed at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and University of Maryland School of Medicine

Pfizer and BioNTech ramping up manufacturing capabilities to further increase production capacity in 2020/2021

Full press release here:

China’s CanSino Biologics’ Ad5-nCoV uses HEK-293 aborted fetal cell line.

Search for a COVID-19 vaccine heats up in China, US

“CanSino’s vaccine is based on a genetically engineered shot it created to guard against Ebola. The leading U.S. candidates use a different approach, made from copies of a piece of the coronavirus’ genetic code.”

CanSinoBIO’s Investigational Vaccine Against COVID-19 Approved for Phase 1 Clinical Trial in China

TIANJIN, CHINA, March 17, 2020, CanSino Biologics Inc. (“CanSinoBIO”, HK6185), an innovative biopharmaceutical company dedicated to vaccine R&D and commercialization, announced today that its Recombinant Novel Coronavirus Vaccine (Adenovirus Type 5 Vector) candidate (“Ad5-nCoV”), co-developed with Beijing Institute of Biotechnology (BIB), has been approved to enter into Phase 1 Clinical Trial. It is currently the first novel coronavirus vaccine for COVID-19 that made to this stage in China.”

“The vaccine candidate is built upon CanSinoBIO’s adenovirus-based viral vector vaccine technology platform, which has also been successfully applied to develop the globally innovative vaccine against Ebola virus infection. Results from preclinical animal studies of “Ad5-nCoV” show that the vaccine candidate can induce strong immune response in animal models. The preclinical animal safety studies demonstrated a good safety profile.”

National Research Council contribution plays key role in newly approved Ebola vaccine

March 20, 2018 – Montreal, QC -In response to the Ebola outbreak that claimed more than 10,000 lives in West Africa four years ago, Canada and China worked on a new Ebola vaccine. Created by the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences’ Bioengineering Institute and CanSino Biologics Inc., the vaccine has recently been approved by Chinese regulators and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) developed the manufacturing process.

The vaccine is made from living cells engineered by the National Research Council. Named HEK 293, these cells are grown inside stainless steel tanks and require special conditions and nutrients to thrive. Experts reproduced a variety of tests to successfully transfer a process for the production of this vaccine in a manufacturing facility. Should another Ebola outbreak occur, the vaccine would be ready to be deployed.”

University of Pittsburgh’s PittCoVacc uses HEK-293 aborted fetal cell line.

UPMC and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Scientists Announce Potential Vaccine

Scientists at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have announced a potential vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

When tested in mice, the vaccine produces antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2 at quantities thought to be enough to neutralize the virus.

The vaccine is delivered through a fingertip-sized skin patch. The research team calls this vaccine PittCoVacc, short for Pittsburgh Coronavirus Vaccine.

A paper on the vaccine appeared April 2 in EBioMedicine, which is published byThe Lancet. It is the first study on a potential COVID-19 vaccine to be published after a critique from fellow scientists at outside institutions.

UPMC and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers were able to act quickly because they laid the groundwork during earlier coronavirus epidemics.

Scientists also use a new approach to deliver the drug, called a microneedle array, to increase potency. This array is a fingertip-sized patch of 400 tiny needles that deliver spike protein pieces into the skin, where the immune reaction is the strongest.

The patch goes on like a Band-Aid, and the needles, which are made entirely of sugar and protein pieces, simply dissolve into the skin.

Microneedle array delivered recombinant coronavirus vaccines:
Immunogenicity and rapid translational development

Eun Kima
, Geza Erdosb
, Shaohua Huanga
, Thomas W. Kennistona
, Stephen C. Balmertb
Cara Donahue Careyb
, V. Stalin Raje,1
, Michael W. Epperlyc
, William B. Klimstrad
Bart L. Haagmanse
, Emrullah Korkmazb,f
, Louis D. Falo Jr.b,f,g,h,
*, Andrea Gambottoa,
a Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, W1148 Biomedical Science Tower, 200 Lothrop St., Pennsylvania, PA 15213, USA b Department of Dermatology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, W1150 Biomedical Science Tower, 200 Lothrop St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
c Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
d Center for Vaccine Research, Department of Immunology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
e Department of Viroscience, Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Department of Bioengineering, Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15231, USA
g Clinical and Translational Science Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
h The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, USA

“For expression of recombinant proteins, rSARS-CoV-2-S1 and
rSARS-CoV-2-S1fRS09, 293HEK cells were transfected by electroporation (Celetrix). Briefly, 293HEK cells were counted and suspended with plasmids in the electroporation buffer at 5 £ 107 cells, 200mg/ml. The mixture containing cells and plasmids was transferred into 1ml Celetrix electroporation tube with 25 mm distance between the electrodes, and immediately subjected to electroporation under 930V and 30ms, and then incubated for 72 hrs at 37°C in a humidified atmosphere with 5% CO2. The recombinant proteins, rSARS-CoV-2-S1 and rSARSCoV-2-S1fRS09, were purified by His60 Ni Superflow Resin (Clontech)
under native conditions from the supernatant as described previously [40]. The concentrations of the purified recombinant proteins were determined by the Bradford assay using bovine serum albumin (BSA) as a protein standard.”