Vaccines are key in charting a path out of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, development of new vaccines is highly dependent on availability of analytical methods for their design and evaluation. This paper highlights the challenges presented in having to rapidly develop vaccine analytical tools during an ongoing pandemic, including the need to address progressive virus mutation and adaptation which can render initial assays unreliable or redundant. It also discusses the potential of new computational modeling techniques to model and analyze key viral proteins and their attributes to assist vaccine production and assay design. It then reviews the current range of analytical tools available for COVID-19 vaccine application, ranging from in vitro assays for immunogen characterization to assays to measure vaccine responses in vivo. Finally, it provides a future perspective for COVID-19 vaccine analytical tools and attempts to predict how the field might evolve over the next 5-10 years.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; analytical tools; pandemic; preclinical models; vaccine design; viruses.