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Coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine latest update: Brazil approves Oxford corona vaccine trials; Moderna to start final phase in July

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Vaccine Latest Update: US has selected five companies as the most likely candidates to produce a vaccine; Moderna is looking to start final phase of trials as early as July.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 7, 2020 1:57:36 pm
Coronavirus (Covid-19) Vaccine Latest Update: Around 120 vaccines are in the works across the world, of which at least 10 are undergoing human trials. (Reuters Photo)

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Vaccine Latest Update: The rising number of Covid-19 cases across the world, which has surpassed the 6.29 million mark, has paved the way for fast-tracking of clinical trials of vaccines, which are being seen as the only ray of hope in the battle against SARS-CoV-2 in the long run.

In latest developments, the Donald Trump administration has selected five companies as the most likely candidates to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus while Brazil has approved human clinical trials for the candidate being jointly developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca Plc.

Around 120 vaccines are in the works across the world, of which at least 10 are undergoing human trials. Coming to India, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said four out of the 14 Covid-19 vaccine candidates might enter the clinical trial stage in the next three-five months.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine latest updates:

💉 As part of Operation Warp Speed, which aims to deliver effective Covid-19 vaccines for the US by the end of the year, the Donald Trump administration has selected five companies, including Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Pfizer Inc, as the most likely candidates to produce a jab, the New York Times reported. The other companies are Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co Inc.

The selected companies will get access to additional government funds, help in running clinical trials, and financial and logistical support. Interestingly, the report did not mention potential vaccines from French
drugmaker Sanofi, Novavax Inc and Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc.

The US is planning massive clinical trials involving 100,000 to 150,000 volunteers. The government aims to start mid-stage testing in July.The first two vaccines to start mid-stage trials would likely be from Moderna and the AstraZeneca/Oxford University combination, Reuters reported.

Clinical trial participants are given a coronavirus vaccine in Melbourne, Australia. (AP)

💉 Brazil, which reported a record number of Covid-19 deaths in the past two days, has approved human clinical trials for the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca Plc, Reuters reported. The development comes amid scientists turning to places like Brazil, where the infection is still rife, to test potential vaccines with transmission rates dropping in UK, mainland Europe and the US.

The Oxford University vaccine is among the first Covid-19 vaccines to move into Phase II, or mid-stage, trials, along with the one from the US biotech company Moderna Inc. To speed up development, researchers are carrying out at the same time both Phase II and Phase III trials, which involve a broader age group.

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“This is a randomized controlled phase III study to determine the safety, efficacy…of the non-replicating
ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine,” Anvisa, Brazil’s health regulator, said in a statement. The Federal University of Sao Paulo said it would recruit 1,000 front-line volunteers who had not contracted the disease for trials.

💉 Massachusetts-based biotechnology giant Moderna Inc, which last week started Stage II trials for its vaccine candidate mRNA-1273, is looking to start the final phase of trials as early as July.

For Phase III trials, the final stage of vaccine development, about 30,000 people will be enrolled, mostly from the age group of 18-55 years, but also the elderly and people who are at risk of severe Covid-19.

READ | Doubts over Moderna vaccine; no Indian jab in clinical trial stage yet

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has told media the results of the Phase-III trial would be available by November or December this year. He further said by that time, Moderna would have already produced about 100 million doses of the vaccine.

Earlier this month, Moderna had released early-stage data that showed the vaccine successfully produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers.


Debate over homoeopathic drug – Arsenicum album 30

A homoeopathic drug, Arsenicum album 30, has become a subject of debate after several states recommended it for prophylactic (preventive) use against Covid-19. This was after the Ministry of AYUSH listed the drug among “preventive and prophylactic simple remedies” against Covid-19. The debate stems from the fact that there is no scientific evidence that the drug works against Covid-19, a fact stressed not only by medical scientists but also by some homoeopathic practitioners themselves. Arsenicum album 30 has been recommended by the state governments in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

💉 Coming to India, where about 30 vaccines are being developed, Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) said the development of its candidate was moving in a positive direction and the next one month would be very crucial. BBIL is developing a vaccine jointly with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

“We are at a very crucial stage. The vaccine development is moving in a positive direction. The next one month is very crucial. I am a scientist and I believe in science,” Krishna Mohan Ella, chief executive officer at Bharat Biotech, told IANS.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) has been given permission by the government to do clinical trials for a vaccine on 30 female monkeys. According to a media report, the NIV scientists will be doing clinical trials on monkeys aged 3-4 years.

READ | India pledges $15 million to international vaccine alliance

💉 South Korea’s first clinical trials of a vaccine for COVID-19 are slated to begin this month, a report in The Korea Herald said. The International Vaccine Institute and Seoul National University Hospital said Thursday they were partnering for phase 1 and 2 trials of pharmaceutical company Inovio’s vaccine candidate INO-4800.

The study will proceed in two stages. The first of which will include 40 healthy adults aged 19-50 years to assess the vaccine candidate’s safety. An additional 120 people aged 19-64 will be enrolled in the next stage for examining its tolerability and immunogenicity, the report said.

Preliminary data from the phase 1 trial is estimated to be available by early September.

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