Coronavirus vaccine update: Moderna vaccine trial delayed, India's by Aug15

The total number of coronavirus cases across the world has crossed the 10-million mark and the death toll has gone past 500,000. There currently are over 100 vaccines at various stages of development worldwide, including in India, Britain, China, the US, Russia and Israel.

Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist at WHO, said nearly 2 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine would be ready by the end of next year. But who would be the first to get a Covid-19 vaccine? Probably people in the country where the first effective vaccine is developed. Thus, there's pressure from governments on pharmaceutical companies and scientists to come up with a vaccine as soon as possible. Last week, WHO said UK-based AstraZeneca was leading the vaccine race while US-based pharmaceutical major Moderna was not far behind.

Several drugs, however, have shown encouraging results. While a definite treatment for coronavirus is nowhere in sight, drugs like dexamethasone and remdesivir are being used on critical patients. Scientists have also approved used of childhood vaccines like MMR to prevent severe lung inflammation associated with coronavirus.

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

Coronavirus treatment: Updates on coronavirus vaccine/drug development:

1. Zydus Cadila gets DCGI nod for human clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccine

After Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, another potential Covid-19 vaccine indigenously developed by Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila Healthcare Ltd got nod from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) on Thursday for human clinical trials, government sources said.

The approval process was fast-tracked following recommendation by the subject expert committee on Covid-19, considering the emergency and unmet medical need during the pandemic.

2. Covaxin, India's first indigrnous vaccine for coronavirus

Bharat Biotech’s Covid vaccine candidate Covaxin is set to undergo human clinical trials in July. It was developed at the firm’s Genome Valley plant in Hyderabad, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech, said: “We are proud to announce Covaxin, India’s first indigenous vaccine for Covid-19. 

3. CanSino's coronavirus vaccine candidate approved for military use in China

China's military has received the greenlight to use a Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by its research unit and CanSino Biologics after clinical trials proved it was safe and showed some efficacy, the company said on Monday.

The Ad5-nCoV is one of China's eight vaccine candidates approved for human trials at home and abroad for the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. The shot also won approval for human testing in Canada.

China's Central Military Commission approved the use of the vaccine by the military on June 25 for a period of one year, CanSino said in a filing. The vaccine candidate was developed jointly by CanSino and a research institute at the Academy of Military Science (AMS).

4.  Never said coronil can cure coronavirus, says Patanjali CEO

Yoga teacher Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurved never claimed it can cure Covid-19 with its medicines, Coronil and Swasari, the firm's Chief Executive Officer Acharya Balkrishna said on Tuesday, adding it just shared the favourable outcome of clinical trials on patients. The Centre had barred the firm from advertising the products after Ramdev, in a sensational claim last week, said they cured 280 patients within days in trials.

"We never said the medicine (coronil) can cure or control corona, we said that we had made medicines and used them in clinical controlled trial which cured corona patients. There is no confusion in it," Acharya Balkrishna, CEO Patanjali said.

5. Pfizer, BioNTech drug shows positive result

The first of four experimental Covid-19 vaccines being tested by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech showed encouraging results in very early testing of 45 people, the companies said Wednesday.

Study volunteers given either a low or medium dose, in two shots about a month apart, had immune responses in the range expected to be protective, when compared to some Covid-19 survivors, according to the preliminary results.

Side effects were typical for vaccines, mostly pain at the injection site and fever.

6. Moderna picks drugmaker Catalent to manufacture potential coronavirus vaccine

Moderna Inc is partnering with contract drugmaker Catalent Inc for filling and packaging millions of doses of its experimental coronavirus vaccine to be supplied in the United States.

The vaccine, among the first to be tested in humans in the United States, was found to produce protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers.

Under the deal, Catalent will provide manufacturing services for an initial 100 million doses starting in the third quarter at its facility in Bloomington, Indiana.

It will also provide other packaging and labeling, storage and distribution services at its facilities

7. Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine status

A leading scientist behind the University of Oxford's potential Covid-19 vaccine said on Wednesday the team has seen the right sort of immune response in trials but declined to give a firm timeframe for when it could be ready.

Speaking at a parliamentary hearing, Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the university, said 8,000 volunteers had been enrolled for the Phase III of its trial into the vaccine, AZD1222, which was licensed to AstraZeneca.

"We're very happy that we're seeing the right sort of immune response that will give protection, and not the wrong sort," Gilbert said.

The project has started Phase III of the human trials to assess how the vaccine works in a large number of people over the age of 18, and how well the vaccine works to prevent people fom becoming infected and unwell with Covid-19.

8. Coronavirus treatment: Covid-19 drug remdesivir

a. Glenmark drug favipiravir hits market, priced at Rs 103 a pill

Oral antiviral drug favipiravir, which is used to treat patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 infection, will now be available in the Indian market under the brand name FabiFlu at Rs 103 per tablet. Glenmark Pharmaceuticals secured the drug regulator’s nod on Friday to manufacture and market the drug in India.

The drug has shown promise in multiple global studies, with reduction in viral load, faster fever resolution, and faster clinical recovery.

In India, the drug will be sold at retail chemist outlets as well as hospitals.

b. Hetero to launch Covid drug Remdesivir under brand name Covifor in India

Hyderabad-based Hetero Labs on Sunday said it had received regulatory approval to manufacture and market antiviral drug remdesivir for treating coronavirus patients.

Hetero's generic version of remdesivir will be marketed under the brand name 'Covifor' in India, said the company after getting approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).

c. Cipla launches generic remdesivir under brand name Cipremi

Cipla Ltd announced the launch of its generic version of remdesivir, which has been authorised for emergency use in treatment of Covid-19 patients by the USFDA, under its brand name Cipremi.

9. Polio vaccine for Covid-19 testable', say scientists

Indian scientists have responded cautiously to a suggestion by global researchers that the oral polio vaccine be tested for Covid-19, saying it is a testable idea based on a sound scientific concept but may offer only limited protection against the infection.

With a vaccine for Covid-19 at least a year away, scientists say repurposing already safe and effective vaccines is the way to go for immediate relief against Covid-19. The repurposed vaccines could includethe oral polio vaccine (OPV) and the Bacillus CalmetteGuerin (BCG)used against tuberculosis, both part of the immunisation given to Indian children.

It is worth conducting a clinical trial, said Ram Vishwakarma, director of the CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIIM) in Jammu.

10. J&J coronavirus vaccine update: Human trials begin in fortnight, says top scientist

Johnson & Johnson is preparing the ground for the entry of a vaccine against Covid-19 and is expanding its manufacturing capacity to supply more than one billion doses through 2021 in a not-for-profit project aimed at the common person, says its top scientist.

The US-based pharma giant, which has already advanced its schedule of starting human trials of its candidate vaccine to the second half of July from September, is working on the twin fronts of expanding existing manufacturing capacity and establishing new units, Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels told PTI.

"We plan to begin production at risk and are committed to bringing an affordable vaccine to the public on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use. We are expanding our global manufacturing capacity, including establishing new vaccine manufacturing capabilities, Stoffels said in an email interview from Belgium.

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