The vaccine helps to provoke the immune system and is an efficacious means for disease prevention and treatment. At this particular time of the COVID-19 outbreak, the vaccine for COVID-19 is urgently needed to save tens of thousands of people’s lives. Here we give some basic information on vaccine classification, generation, and application, and make a brief review on the current status of COVID-19 vaccine and tumor vaccine development both in the clinical trial stage and pre-clinical stage.
1. Landscape of vaccines
A vaccine is any substance produced from various pathogenic microorganisms and can spur the body’s immune system to generate antibodies for the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of diseases when given to the body, including artificial active immunity vaccine, artificial passive immunity vaccine and novel vaccine (Fig. 1). Traditionally, the artificial active immunity vaccines can be divided into three categories: dead vaccines, live vaccines, and toxoid (Fig. 1). Dead vaccines are dead parts or wholes of germ cells, once injected into people or animals, they can trigger mild immune responses, containing pertussis vaccine, typhoid vaccine, meningococcal vaccine, cholera vaccine, etc.; while live vaccines are living parts or all of germ cells, most of them are attenuated to reduce the risk but also provide immunity for the body, such as BCG vaccine, polio vaccine, measles vaccine, plague vaccine, etc.; toxoid is a kind of extracellular toxin treated by formaldehyde, which loses the toxicity but retains the immunogenicity, such as diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid. Considering the long-term required for immune system activation using artificial active immunity, the artificial passive immunity vaccine is designed for rapid disease treatment or emergency prevention, including antitoxin, immunoglobin, cytokine, and monoclonal antibodies.
Besides these two kinds of immunity vaccines, some novel vaccines have been developed or created, such as subunit vaccine, conjugate vaccine, synthetic peptide vaccine, and genetic engineering vaccine (recombinant protein-based vaccines, lipid-based vaccines, polysaccharides-based vaccines, viral vector-based vaccines, and mRNA/DNA vaccines, etc.). However, some of them, such as lipid-based vaccines and polysaccharides-based vaccines, only result in poor immunogenicity. The reasons might be that some antigen structures with adjuvant activity are discarded during vaccine preparation, or some vaccines can only trigger one kind of immune responses, such as cell-mediated or humoral immune responses. Among them, viral vector-based vaccines, and mRNA/DNA vaccines can provoke both humoral and cell-mediated immune responses, which are promising candidates with great potential in the future.
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