Coronavirus vaccine update: Oxford vaccine to provide protection for a year

The total number of coronavirus cases across the world has now crossed the 8-million mark. Acharya Balkrishna, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Patanjali has claimed that an Ayurvedic medicine developed by the company has been able to cure Covid-19 patients within 5-14 days. Meanwhile, major pharmaceutical companies such as Gilead Sciences, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna are rushing to find a successful vaccine and some of them have succeeded in many ways.

Coronavirus treatment: Here are updates on coronavirus vaccine/drug development:

1. Dexamethasone lowers deaths by one-third in severe Covid-19 patients: Study

Low doses of the steroid dexamethasone can reduce deaths by one-third in ventilated Covid-19 patients, according to researchers who assessed the performance of the inexpensive drug in more than 2,100 patients.

The analysis is part of the RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy) trial which was established to test a range of potential therapies for Covid-19, including low-dose dexamethasone -- a steroid treatment.

The RECOVERY trial included over 11,500 patients, enrolled from more than 175 hospitals in the UK, noted a statement by the University of Oxford.

2. UK begins trial of latest virus vaccine candidate this week

Scientists at Imperial College London will start immunising people in Britain this week with their experimental coronavirus shot, becoming the latest entry into the race to find an effective vaccine to stop the pandemic.

In a statement on Monday, the British government said 300 healthy people will be immunized with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed at Imperial, which has been backed by 41 million pounds (USD51 million) in government funding.

3. Patanjali's Ayurvedic coronavirus treatment

"We are not talking about an immunity booster. We are talking about a cure," said Acharya Balkrishna, managing director of Patanjali. According to the firm, an Ayurvedic medicine developed by the company has been able to cure Covid-19 patients within 5-14 days. The clinical trials were conducted in Indore and in Jaipur after Patanjali secured permission last week.

4. Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine status: UK pharma firm to supply 400 million doses Of Covid-19 vaccine to Europe

The AZD1222 vaccine, jointly developed by British pharma giant AstraZeneca and Oxford University, is likely to provide protection against contracting Covid-19 for about a year, the company’s chief executive has told a news agency.

The British drugmaker has already begun human trials of the vaccine, with a phase I trial in Britain due to end soon and a phase III trial already begun, Pascal Soriot told broadcaster Bel RTL. “We think that it will protect for about a year,” Soriot said.

5. J&J vaccine update

Johnson and Johnson (J&J) expects to begin human trials for its experimental Covid-19 vaccine in July, and might receive emergency approval by early 2021. J&J's chief scientific officer Paul Stoffels told The Economic Times the company was looking to scale its manufacturing capacity in many countries, including India. The company has received funding from the US government's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development (BARDA) to accelerate the development of the vaccine.

6. Moderna’s mRNA vaccine update

A series of studies in mice of Moderna Inc's Covid-19 lent some assurance that it may not increase the risk of more severe disease, and that one dose may provide protection against the novel coronavirus, according to preliminary data released on Friday.

Prior studies on a vaccine for SARS - a close cousin to the new virus that causes Covid-19 - suggests vaccines against this type of virus might have the unintended effect of causing more severe disease when the vaccinated person is later exposed to the pathogen, especially in individuals who do not produce an adequately strong immune response.

Moderna has finalised the protocol for the Phase III clinical trial of its vaccine, based on feedback from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The trial is set to be performed in partnership with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). It will enrol about 30,000 participants in the US.

7. China coronavirus vaccine update

Chinese vaccine-maker Sinovac Biotech has announced “positive preliminary” results of phase I and II clinical trials for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, CoronaVac, saying it can induce a positive immune response.

The phase I/II clinical trials was designed as randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled studies.

In total, 743 healthy volunteers, aged from 18 to 59 years old, enrolled in the trials.

Of those, 143 volunteers are in phase I and 600 volunteers are in phase II, the Beijing-based company said in a statement.

8. Pfizer-BNTECH vaccine update

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which is co-producing the vaccine with the help of German company BNTECH, has started the process of dosing patients. Four vaccine candidates devised out of messenger RNA (mRNA) format are being tested on volunteers to identify the most viable and suited vaccine of the four. The data is being shared with scientists in real time. The tests are currently going on in Germany and parts of the US.

Pfizer believes that a Covid-19 vaccine could be ready by the end of October 2020, according to The Times of Israel, which has cited Albert Bourla, the CEO of the firm.

9. Serum Institute of India (SII) vaccine update

Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) is a leading contender for vaccine development. The company, which is known to produce over 10 million doses of vaccines in a year for treating other diseases, has partnered with the University of Oxford to speed up the development of a safe and affordable coronavirus vaccine. While the Oxford University vaccine shows good success rates (and has reached the human clinical trial stage), SII is speeding up efforts to produce the vaccine and making sure that vaccine doses are available as early as October 2020.

10. US FDA withdraws emergency use of HCQ for treating coronavirus patients

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday withdrew the emergency use authorisation of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of Covid-19 patients saying that the drug, which was called as 'game-changer' in treatment of Covid-19, may not be effective to cure the deadly virus infection.

BioNTech, Novavax, Sinovac, CanSino Biologics and Inovio Pharmaceuticals are among those leading the fight against coornavirus.

How soon can the world expect a coronavirus vaccine?

A vaccine would normally take years, if not decades, to develop. But in this case, researchers hope to achieve the same amount of work in just a few months. Most experts think a vaccine is likely to become available by mid-2021.

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