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Very close to a vaccine

All over the world, scientists are working flat out to develop a vaccine for Covid-19. Germany is among the front runners with a number of projects.

The hope of millions: A Covid-19 vaccine
The hope of millions: A Covid-19 vaccine © Leigh Prather -

Research institutes and pharma companies worldwide are working flat out on more than 150 different vaccines for Covid-19, the infectious disease caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. According to the German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa), eight of them are being developed in Germany.

The most progress has been made by BioNtech from Mainz and Curevac from Tübingen. Both are at the clinical trial stage. BioNTech has announced that it already intends to file an approval application in the autumn of 2020 with a view to having the vaccine approved late this year or early next year. We present an overview of ongoing projects and the most common types of vaccine.  

The following companies in Germany are developing their own vaccines entwickeln in Deutschland:

  • BioNTech and Pfizer (Mainz/Idar Oberstein): gene-based vaccine with mRNA
  • CureVac (Tübingen): gene-based vaccine with mRNA
  • Leukocare (Planegg) with ReiThera (Italy) and Univercell (Belgium): viral vector-based vaccine
  • Prime Vector Technologies (PVT) (Tübingen): viral vector-based vaccine
  • Artes Biotechnology (Langenfeld, Rhineland): inactivated vaccine (with virus-like particles)
  • Baseclick (Neuried near Munich): gene-based vaccine with mRNA
  • German Center for Infection Research (Braunschweig) / Univ. of Munich / Univ. of Marburg / University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf / IDT Biologika (Dessau): viral vector-based vaccine
  • German Center for Infection Research (Braunschweig) / CanVirex (Braunschweig / Basel, Switzerland): viral vector-based vaccine


The following companies are contributing to projects in other countries:

  • Vibalogics (Cuxhaven): production of the viral vector-based vaccine developed by Janssen (subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) (USA)
  • Cevec Pharmaceuticals (Cologne): production for an unnamed vaccine manufacturer
  • Richter-Helm BioLogics (Hamburg): production of the DNA vaccine developed by Inovio (USA)
  • Merck (Darmstadt): supporting production facilities of Halix (Netherlands) for the viral vector-based vaccine developed by Oxford University / AstraZeneca
  • Bayer (Leverkusen): has offered support with vaccine production of other companies
  • University of Giessen: helping in the OpenCorona Consortium (led by the Karolinska Institute, Sweden) to develop a gene-based vaccine
  • Tropical Institute at the University of Tübingen: will help trial an inactivated vaccine in the Danish-Dutch-German PREVENT-nCoV Consortium


Most vaccines are one of the following types:

  • Viral vector-based vaccines: they contain harmless viruses that are “disguised” as SARS-CoV-2"". The idea is that they should also provoke an immune response to the real coronavirus.
  • Inactivated vaccines: these mostly contain only selected viral proteins that are manufactured using genetic engineering methods. They are also intended to provoke an immune response to defend the body against SARS-CoV-2.
  • Gene-based vaccines: these contain selected SARS-CoV-2 genes in the form of the genetic substances mRNA or DNA. After vaccination, the cells of the inoculated person then manufacture viral proteins that then have the same effect as the proteins of an inactivated vaccine.


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