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Coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine latest update: Doubts over Moderna vaccine; no Indian jab in clinical trial stage yet

Coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine latest update: Shares of Moderna Inc tumble over doubts over vaccine; Novavax Inc buys vaccine manufacturing plant from Serum Institute of India

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: May 29, 2020 9:24:13 pm
Coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine latest update: A person receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for Covid-19. (AP)

Coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine latest update: As countries scramble to stem the spread of Covid-19, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, has provided some hope of a vaccine being ready as early as November even as epidemiology experts have warned that the novel coronavirus might not go away with the development of an injection.

The experts have said the novel coronavirus would likely remain for years to come, and may eventually, become endemic like HIV, measles and chickenpox, a report in The Washington Post said.

Meanwhile, US biotechnology company Novavax, which started human trials of its NVX-CoV2373 vaccine for Covid-19 earlier this week in Australia, is buying a manufacturing plant from Serum Institute of India in its bid to produce one billion doses next year, Reuters reported.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 100 vaccines are being developed across the world,
with 10 candidates already in human trials. Till date, China’s CanSino adenovirus vaccine, Oxford University’s adenovirus vaccine, Moderna’s mRNA vaccine and Novavax have emerged as the top most promising vaccine candidates for Covid-19.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine latest updates:

💉 Shares of Moderna Inc, which last week reported successful results from its experimental vaccine, tumbled this week after a report highlighted side effects in a volunteer taking part in a trial

A volunteer told STAT News that he started getting chills within hours of getting home from his second dose and had nausea and aching muscles. He said he had received the highest dose from the trials — one 10 times stronger than others. However, he maintained that as sick as he was, it was never “life-threatening”, according to report in The New York Post.

READ | What govt said on vaccines being developed in India

Moreover, Moderna Inc, which said its candidate produced protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers, has extended a deal with pharmaceutical ingredient supplier CordenPharma to secure large volumes of the lipids used to produce its vaccine, Reuters reported.

Moderna plans to supply millions of doses per month in 2020 and tens of millions a month in 2021 if the vaccine proves successful.

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💉 Novavax Inc has bought a manufacturing plant from privately held Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest maker of vaccines by volume. The US biotechnology firm, whose results of the first phase of clinical trials in Melbourne and Brisbane are expected to be known in July, is aiming to produce one billion doses of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate next year.

The US company has bought Czech Republic-based Praha Vaccines, a unit of India’s Cyrus Poonawalla Group, which also owns Serum Institute, for $167 million.

Tests on animals suggested the recombinant vaccine is effective in low doses. Novavax uses genetic engineering to grow harmless copies of the coronavirus spike protein in giant vats of insect cells in a laboratory. Scientists extracted and purified the protein, and packaged it into virus-sized nanoparticles.

💉 Meanwhile, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN in an interview that there’s a “good chance” a vaccine might be deployable by November or December.

“I still think that we have a good chance, if all the things fall in the right place, that we might have a vaccine that would be deployable by the end of the year, by December and November,” Fauci, a key member of President Donald Trump’s Covid-19 task force, told CNN.

Fauci also said efforts to speed up the production of vaccines in development could shave months off the time it usually takes to prepare them for distribution.

💉 UK firm GlaxoSmithKline Plc has said it would expand production of vaccine efficacy boosters, or adjuvants, to produce one billion doses in 2021 for use in shots for Covid-19, Reuters reported.

GSK is working on its own Covid-19 vaccine with Sanofi. GSK’s adjuvant can reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, which would allow for more vaccines to be made, the UK firm said.

💉 Coming to India, medical pharmaceutical startup Mynvax is developing an indigenous vaccine and expects it to be ready in about 18 months. The vaccine being developed by the startup, incubated at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, involves using a protein-based vaccine, a report in The Economic Times said.

Mynvax has developed several candidate immunogens and completed initial animal trials. “We are working on multiple new molecules for which we will have animal data in the next few months. These are sub unit-based vaccines. It requires testing in animals before we go to humans. We also need to look at efficacy, cost of production and scalability,”said Raghavan Varadarajan, co-founder of Mynvax.

💉 Besides collaborating on a Covid-19 vaccine with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) has already begun the testing phase of another vaccine, named CoroFlu. CoroFlu uses an influenza flu strain and is being developed in collaboration with international virologists.

“CoroFlu will be developed on the backbone of vaccine company FluGen’s flu vaccine candidate known as M2SR, which is a self-limiting version of the influenza virus that induces an immune response against the flu,” a statement by BBIL had earlier said. The M2SR is a unique form of the flu virus. It lacks a gene called M2, which restricts the virus to undergo only a single round of replication in cells, according to the statement.

💉 India has said 30 groups were trying to develop a vaccine out of which 20 were making fast progress. Addressing a media briefing, Dr K Vijayraghavan, who is also the co-chair of the Covid-19 task force on scientific development, however, said no Indian companies or collaborations were in the clinical trial stage for vaccines yet.

“There are about 30 groups in India, big industry to individual academics, are trying got develop a vaccine. Some companies are in late pre-clinical stage,” Vijayraghavan said. Vijayraghavan said four categories of vaccines — mRNA, attenuated, inactivated, adjuvant — were being developed presently.

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