All About COVID-19 Vaccine Trials


The question on everyone’s minds in Durango and throughout the world is “when will I get a coronavirus vaccine?” It turns out that is not a simple question. Numerous companies and governments are currently researching  and distributing vaccines around the world, but no vaccine has been made available for widespread use yet. Also, at this point in time, there are still a lot of obstacles to a widespread vaccine for the general public that aren’t at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 such as doctors and the elderly. So while we wait for a vaccine, here are some of the brief summaries of a few of the many vaccine clinical trials that took place in 2020. 


Definitions to Learn First:

Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study:

The best and most reliable form of research that most of these vaccine trials are following. According to Winchester Hospital, in this type of study, patients are given either the vaccine or a placebo,  commonly a shot of salt water. Both the patients and the researchers don’t know if they are giving/receiving the real vaccine or the placebo to eliminate their biases.


Phase 3:

The last phase in the vaccine research process in which the vaccine is given to thousands of people. These trials can determine if a vaccine is effective against the novel coronavirus and reveal potential side effects. In this phase of the trial researchers wait to see how many people are infected compared to the placebo group. In order to get out of this phase and start manufacturing the FDA advised that they need to see evidence that the vaccine can protect at least 50% of those who receive it. 


Current Vaccines in Phase 3 or Above:


Genetic Vaccines

Vaccines that deliver SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) genes to our cells to provoke a safe immune response




(Phase 3, Approved for Limited Use In US)

  • Preliminary analysis of data concluded that vaccine was 94.5% effective on 11/16
  • Enrolled 30,000 participants in study across the US
  • Submitted a request for emergency use authorization on 11/30
  • First study under operation “warp speed”
  • Receives funding from the National Institutes of Health (division of the federal government)


(Phase 2/Phase 3, Approved for Limited Use in US)

  • Data that concluded the vaccine was 95% effective was released on 11/18
  • Submitted a request for emergency use authorization on 11/20
  • Enrolled 44,000 participants in study
  • Granted permission to dose people as young as 12, the first vaccine study to get this approval


Viral Vector Vaccines

Vaccines that consist of engineered viruses that carry SARS-CoV-2 genes in order to provoke a safe immune response




Russian Ministry of Health

(Phase 3/Approved for Early Use in Russia and Elsewhere)

  • Phase 3 trials included 40,000 participants across multiple countries
  • Russian scientists estimated that the vaccine was 92% effective on 11/11
  • Putin declared that the vaccine was approved in Phases 1&2 but reversed this claim after it was revealed that Phase 1&2 trials only had 38 participants 


Astra Zeneca logo

(Phase 2/Phase 3/Approved for Limited Use in Britain, E.U. and Elsewhere)

  • Analysis of a preliminary subset of data indicated that the vaccine was either 90% or 62% effective depending on the dosage
  • Compared to mRNA vaccines, this vaccine is cheaper and able to be stored for long periods more easily 
  • Global trials were paused on 9/6 but have since resumed


Inactivated or Attenuated Coronavirus Vaccines

Vaccines created from inactivated versions of SARS-CoV-2 that have been weakened or killed with chemicals




(Phase 3/Approved for limited use in China and Elsewhere) 

  • Sinopharm is a state-run Chinese company 
  • Phase 3 trials in the UAE, Peru, and Morocco began in the summer 
  • Experimental doses that have not completed a phase 3 trial were presumably given to high risk workers in China


(Phase 3/Approved for limited use in China)

  • Sinovac is a private Chinese company
  • Phase 3 trial are occurring in the Brazil (paused), India, and Turkey
  • The Chinese city of Jiaxing has offered essential workers and high risk groups experimental doses of the vaccine that has not completed a phase 3 trial doses for $60