Candidate: V590

Category: VAX

Type: Vaccine based on Merck’s recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) platform, which uses an attenuated strain of vesicular stomatitis virus, a common animal virus that has been modified to express proteins that stimulate an immune response. Merck uses the rVSV in its approved Ebola Zaire virus vaccine.

2021 Status: MERCK HALTS DEVELOPMENT OF V590–Merck & Co. said January 25 it will halt development of V590 and another COVI-19 vaccine candidate, V591, while continuing development of two drug candidates against the virus, molnupiravir (MK-4482) and MK-7110. Merck said V590 and V591 generated weaker immune responses than other unnamed COVID-19 vaccines.

Merck and partners plan to submit the results of Phase I studies for V590 and V591 for future publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The company also said it will continue to study the potential of the platforms behind V590 and V591, as well as “pursue broader pandemic-response capabilities.”

2020 Status: Merck & Co. said July 31 in releasing second-quarter results that V590 was in preclinical development, with clinical studies planned to start this year.

The New York Times reported June 3 that Merck & Co. was among developers of five COVID-19 vaccines identified by President Donald Trump’s administration as most likely to produce a vaccine for the virus, citing unnamed “government officials.” According to the report, the five will receive additional government funding, assistance with clinical trials, and financial and logistical support for manufacturing.

Merck said May 26 it launched a COVID-19 vaccine collaboration with IAVI, a nonprofit scientific research organization dedicated to addressing urgent, unmet global health challenges. The partners will develop a vaccine based on Merck’s rVSV platform, the basis for Merck’s Ebola Zaire virus vaccine, ERVEBO® (Ebola Zaire Vaccine, Live), the first rVSV vaccine approved for use in humans.

IAVI said its rVSV vaccine preclinical development, including work on the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate, is being done by scientists at IAVI’s Design and Development Laboratory in Brooklyn, NY. The program is part of IAVI’s longstanding effort to develop rVSV vaccines for HIV as well as other emerging infectious diseases such as Lassa fever, Marburg, and Ebola Sudan disease, an effort led by Swati Gupta, DrPH, IAVI’s head of Emerging Infectious Diseases and Scientific Strategy.

Merck said it had signed an agreement with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which disclosed that it agreed to provide the company and IAVI $38,033,570 in initial funding support.


COVID-19: 300 Candidates and Counting

To navigate through the >300 potential therapeutic and vaccine options for COVID-19, GEN has grouped the candidates into four broad categories based on their developmental and (where applicable) clinical progress:

FRONT RUNNER – the most promising therapeutics/vaccines based on clinical progress, favorable data or both.

DEFINITELY MAYBE – earlier phases with promising partners, or more advanced candidates in development that have generated uneven data.

KEEPING AN EYE ON… – interesting technology, attracting notable partners, or both, but preliminary data.

TOO SOON TO TELL – longshots pending additional experimental and/or clinical data.

GEN has also tagged the most common treatment types:

● ANTIVIRAL
● VAX
● ANTIBODY
● RNA