Development of COVID-19 vaccines utilizing gene therapy technology

Int Immunol. 2021 Sep 25;33(10):521-527. doi: 10.1093/intimm/dxab013.


There is currently an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by infection with SARS-CoV-2. Individuals with COVID-19 have symptoms that are usually asymptomatic or mild in most initial cases. However, in some cases, moderate and severe symptoms have been observed with pneumonia. Many companies are developing COVID-19 vaccine candidates using different technologies that are classified into four groups (intact target viruses, proteins, viral vectors and nucleic acids). For rapid development, RNA vaccines and adenovirus vector vaccines have been urgently approved, and their injection has already started across the world. These types of vaccine technologies have been developed over more than 20 years using translational research for use against cancer or diseases caused by genetic disorders but the COVID-19 vaccines are the first licensed drugs to prevent infectious diseases using RNA vaccine technology. Although these vaccines are highly effective in preventing COVID-19 for a short period, safety and efficiency evaluations should be continuously monitored over a long time period. As the time of writing, more than 10 projects are now in phase 3 to evaluate the prevention of infection in double-blind studies. Hopefully, several projects may be approved to ensure high-efficiency and safe vaccines.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; gene therapy; virus vector.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COVID-19 / immunology*
  • COVID-19 Vaccines / immunology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology
  • Technology / methods
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / immunology


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Synthetic
  • mRNA Vaccine