Here at IAVI, we are working across many of our scientific, clinical, and global community engagement program areas to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus Vaccine Development

IAVI and Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, are collaborating to develop an investigational vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 to be used for the prevention of COVID-19. This vaccine candidate will use the recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) technology that is the basis for Merck’s Ebola Zaire virus vaccine, ERVEBO® (Ebola Zaire Vaccine, Live), which was the first rVSV vaccine approved for use in humans. Use of an established vaccine technology could speed development, clinical testing, and approval of the vaccine candidate in the midst of the continuing global public health threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus vaccine program leverages IAVI’s expertise in  rVSV vector technology that it has developed through its rVSV HIV vaccine candidate and its viral hemorrhagic fever vaccine candidates in preclinical development.

IAVI and Merck will work together to advance the development and global clinical evaluation of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate designed and engineered by IAVI scientists at the Design and Development Lab in Brooklyn, New York, a global leader in viral vector vaccine technology. The vaccine candidate is in preclinical development, and clinical studies are planned to start later in 2020. Merck will lead regulatory filings globally. Both organizations will work together to develop the vaccine and make it accessible and affordable globally, if approved.

The Government of Japan in partnership with the World Bank has announced their intention to commit significant funding to IAVI’s COVID-19 vaccine development program.

Antibody Research

In collaboration with Scripps Research and University of California San Diego, researchers at IAVI’s Neutralizing Antibody Center are applying platforms that have been used to discover HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies to discover antibodies that neutralize SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They are using those antibodies to identify vulnerable sites on SARS-CoV-2 to improve vaccine design and development and will potentially advance the antibodies for therapy and prevention. A June 2020 study published in Science describes their work on COVID-19 antibodies.

 Community Engagement

Together with partners in India, Africa, and the U.S., IAVI has been engaging in educational webinar series to provide our stakeholders with timely updates on COVID-19 product development and to help dispell harmful pandemic myths within vulnerable communities. This includes an ongoing multi-part series for health and science journalists hosted by IAVI, the India Alliance, and Nature India. IAVI is also a periodic partner in the PROTOcall webinar series for journalists in India. The series is held each Thursday by the non-profit International Center for Journalists; its project International Journalists’ Network; and PROTO, a social enterprise that is trying to achieve better outcomes in civic media through collaboration and research in India. Watch a recording below or visit our YouTube channel to watch recordings of all previous webinars.

MORE COVID-19 NEWS from iavi

September 15, 2020

Updated: The Effects of COVID-19 on IAVI Clinical Programs

Updated September 15, 2020

July 21, 2020

Surveying the HIV Vaccine and Cure Landscape at AIDS 2020 Virtual

Thumbi Ndung'u, Ph.D., provides a view of current strategies for HIV vaccine and cure design

June 15, 2020

Powerful antibodies isolated from recovered donors protect against COVID-19 disease in an animal model

Findings offer promise for accelerated development of antibody-based prevention and treatment for COVID-19

June 5, 2020

Exploring the links between HIV and TB research and COVID-19

Summarizing the impact of COVID-19 on ongoing HIV and TB prevention research

June 3, 2020

Watch IAVI Experts Discuss Accelerating COVID-19 Vaccine Development with Merck

Mark Feinberg and Swati Gupta introduce viewers to the COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which uses the same technology as Merck’s Ebola vaccine.

May 27, 2020

Webinar Series Explores Community Engagement During COVID-19 and Beyond

Seventh edition of webinar series tackles community engagement in a time of social distancing.

May 26, 2020

IAVI and Merck Collaborate to Develop Vaccine Against SARS-CoV-2

New collaboration to leverage complementary expertise and capabilities with rVSV technology to advance novel vaccine candidate

April 23, 2020


Japan's commitment to contribute to the World Bank for COVID-19 vaccine research sets example and will advance global health, IAVI says (in Japanese).

April 22, 2020

Japan's Commitment to Contribute to the World Bank for COVID-19 Vaccine Research Sets Example and Will Advance Global Health, IAVI Says

Government of Japan, in partnership with the World Bank, commits funds to COVID-19 vaccine development.

March 30, 2020

The Effects of COVID-19 on IAVI Clinical Programs

IAVI's response to the COVID-19 pandemic