Coronavirus vaccine update: Chinese vaccine shows promise in animal tests

Vaccines typically take years to develop
In a major breakthrough, the early-stage human trial data has revealed that the coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University is safe. German biotech firm BioNTech and US drugmaker Pfizer also reported that their experimental Covid-19 vaccine was safe and induced an immune response in patients. The latest developments raise hope as these could contribute to ending the pandemic, which has infected over 14.7 million people worldwide and claimed over 600,000 lives so far. More than 150 possible vaccines are being developed and tested around the world, including in India, Britain, China, the US, Russia and Israel to try to stop the pandemic. At present, 23 vaccine candidates are in human clinical trials. These include those of Moderna, AstraZeneca Plc, BioNTech, Novavax, Sinovac, CanSino Biologics and Inovio Pharmaceuticals.

Coronavirus treatment: Updates on coronavirus vaccine/drug development:

1. SII CEO says India may get Oxford coronavirus vaccine by October/November 2020

Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, is hopeful of developing a coronavirus vaccine by October/November this year, its CEO Adar Poonawala said on July 24. It has partnered with biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to manufacture the experimental coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford.

It has also got the DCGI's go-ahead to manufacture its own indigenously developed pneumococcal vaccine.

Poonawalla, during an interaction with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik through a video conference, expressed optimism that the coronavirus vaccine could be ready by October-November this year and the next phase of the trial can start in mid-August in India.

Hotspots Mumbai, Pune to help test vaccine efficacy, says SII: The high prevalence of coronavirus infections in Mumbai and Pune will help test the efficacy of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, its local manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII) has said.

By end of August, between 4,000 to 5,000 people in Pune and Mumbai will be injected with the vaccine as part of trials that are scheduled to last over two months, SII said.

2. Russia claims its coronavirus vaccine is ready for use

A Covid-19 vaccine developed with the Russian Defense Ministry completed Phase 2 trials, leading First Deputy Defense Minister Ruslan Tsalikov to say the first domestic inoculation is ready for use.

A second group of volunteers ended Phase 2 trials Monday, with everyone developing immunity from the coronavirus and feeling fine, Tsalikov said in an interview with Argumenty i Fakty newspaper published Tuesday. He didn’t say when Phase 3 large-scale trials would take place or when production of the vaccine may begin.

3. Oxford coronavirus vaccine update: Vaccine safe, gives immunity

The early-stage human trial data has revealed that the Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University is safe and induces immune response, with mild side effects in some participants, which scientists say can be treated with the commonly available pain medication paracetamol.

The preliminary results of the Phase-I and -II trials, published in The Lancet journal, involved 1,107 healthy adults, and found that the vaccine induced an immune response, both via antibodies and the T-cells of the immune system, up to day 56 of the ongoing trial. 

Oxford had in April announced an agreement with the UK-based global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for further development, large-scale manufacture and potential distribution of this Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

While the Phase-I trial of the vaccine candidate began in April itself, the Phase-II and -III UK trials of the Oxford vaccine, named AZD1222, in about 10,000 adult volunteers, was announced in May.

4. Coronavirus vaccine update: Pfizer-BioNTech potential Covid-19 vaccine shows promise

German biotech firm BioNTech and US drugmaker Pfizer also reported on July 20 that their experimental Covid-19 vaccine was safe and induced an immune response in patients. The companies said the data also demonstrated an induction of high level of T-cell responses against the novel coronavirus. Pfizer is hoping to seek regulatory approval for a vaccine "as early as October" this year and have a vaccine on the market by year end.

A "best case scenario" would be approval before year end and a vaccine by year end, according to Pfizer.

5. 'Russia’s coronavirus vaccine to be available for public by next month'

Russia’s health minister Mikhail Murashko has revealed that the vaccine that his country is currently developing to prevent Covid-19 will be available for public consumption by next month after it completes the last stage of clinical trials.

According to a Bloomberg report, Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the government-backed Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said that the Phase-III trials would begin on August 3 in Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.

Russia will mass-produce the vaccine, around 30 million doses domestically in 2020, and 170 million for export. Five countries had already shown interest in helping Russia with the mass production, Dmitriev said.

Recently, Russia’s Sechenov University had announced that it had completed clinical trials of a Covid-19 vaccine, developed by Russian defense ministry’s Gamalei Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

6. Coronavirus vaccine in India: Human trial of Covaxin begins at AIIMS, Delhi

The phase-I human clinical trial of India's first indigenously-developed vaccine against novel coronavirus, Covaxin, began at the AIIMS on Friday with the first dose of the injection given to a man, who is in his 30s.

Already, over 3,500 volunteers have registered themselves for the trial at AIIMS since last Saturday, of whom the screening of at least 22 people is underway, said Dr Sanjay Rai, Professor at the Centre for Community Medicine at AIIMS and the principal investigator of the study.

"The first volunteer, a resident of Delhi, was screened two days ago and all his health parameters were found to be within the normal range. He also does not have any co-morbid conditions.

"The first dose of 0.5 ml intramuscular injection was given to him around 1.30 pm. No immediate side-effects have been observed so far. He was under observation for two hours and will be monitored for the next seven days," Rai said.

7. Moderna expects to start late-stage Covid-19 vaccine trial on July 27

Moderna Inc plans to start a late stage clinical trial for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate on or around July 27, according to its listing for the phase 3 study at clinicaltrials.gov.

Moderna said it will conduct the trial at 87 study locations, all in the United States.

The experimental vaccine will be tested in 30 states and Washington, D.C. Around half of the study locations are in hard-hit states like Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, Arizona and North and South Carolina.

8. Zydus begins human trials for potential coronavirus vaccine

Indian pharmaceutical company Zydus said it has started human studies for its potential Covid-19 vaccine. ZyCoV-D, its plasmid DNA vaccine, was found to be safe, immunogenic and well-tolerated in the pre-clinical toxicity studies, Zydus said. In the human trials, Zydus will enrol over 1,000 subjects across multiple clinical study sites in India.

9. Coronavirus vaccine race: Novavax gets $1.6 billion in US funding

The US government has awarded Novavax Inc $1.6 billion to cover testing and manufacturing of a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus in the United States, with the aim of delivering 100 million doses by January. Novavax is somewhat of a dark horse in the race for a coronavirus vaccine. The company was not on the list of vaccine finalists for Warp Speed previously reported by the New York Times that included Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer Inc, J&J and Merck & Co.

10. Chinese coronavirus vaccine shows promise in animal tests
The phase-I human clinical trial of India's first indigenously-developed vaccine against novel coronavirus, Covaxin, began at the AIIMS on Friday with the first dose of the injection given to a man, who is in his 30s.

Already, over 3,500 volunteers have registered themselves for the trial at AIIMS since last Saturday, of whom the screening of at least 22 people is underway, said Dr Sanjay Rai, Professor at the Centre for Community Medicine at AIIMS and the principal investigator of the study.

"The first volunteer, a resident of Delhi, was screened two days ago and all his health parameters were found to be within the normal range. He also does not have any co-morbid conditions.

"The first dose of 0.5 ml intramuscular injection was given to him around 1.30 pm. No immediate side-effects have been observed so far. He was under observation for two hours and will be monitored for the next seven days," Rai said.

US to pay Pfizer, BioNTech $1.95 billion for 100 million coronavirus vaccine doses

The US government will pay $1.95 billion to buy 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Pfizer Inc and German biotech BioNTech if it proves to be safe and effective, the companies said on Wednesday.

The contract is the most the United States has agreed to spend on a vaccine, although previous deals with other vaccine makers were intended to also help pay for development costs.

Pfizer and BioNTech will not receive any money from the government unless their vaccine succeeds in large clinical trials and can be successfully manufactured, according to a Pfizer spokeswoman.

Although it is still unclear which if any of the vaccines will ultimately prove effective against the virus, Britain and other rich countries are already investing in the vaccines to ensure there is enough manufacturing capacity to deliver any successful candidate. Vaccines typically take years to develop and more than a dozen are in the early stages of testing globally.

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