Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • CORRESPONDENCE

COVID-19: release approved vaccines for trials of new ones

Scientists must develop the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines now, if the world is to meet the challenge of SARS-CoV-2 variants and reduce vaccine inequity by increasing global supply. This can be done only if comparator COVID-19 vaccines — those that have already been approved — are available to support clinical trials. Such comparator vaccines are almost impossible to secure; governments, developers and manufacturers must find a solution to unlock supplies.

So far, COVID-19 vaccines have received approval on the basis of data from unvaccinated participants in placebo-controlled efficacy trials. These trials become increasingly difficult to carry out as the number of people who are immunized rises. Comparator vaccines, essentially replacing placebos, are therefore needed for trials that assess whether new candidate vaccines provide comparable levels of protection, including against emerging variants.

The number of comparator-vaccine doses needed to support clinical trials is small. However, contracts between manufacturers and governments for approved vaccines restrict their use to improving public health. This must change if vital COVID-19 vaccine research and development are to progress.

Nature 597, 178 (2021)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-02398-6

Competing Interests

M.S. holds shares in Sanofi, a vaccine company, and is also an inventor for patents for non-COVID vaccines.

Subjects

Nature Careers

Jobs

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing

Search

Quick links