Updated: May 18, 2020 1:09:19 pm
Coronavirus (Covid-19) Vaccine Latest Update: While last week we reported that US firms Moderna and Novavax have moved on to the second phase of human trials in the quest for a vaccine against Covid-19, more companies have made discernible progress in the past few days. From Oxford’s coronavirus vaccine trial on rhesus macaques showing promise to a vaccine made with proteins from tobacco leaves ready for human tests, the challenge to develop an injection has only intensified even as the number of worldwide cases cross 46 lakh, including more than 3 lakh deaths.
For Covid-19, a vaccine is of paramount importance at this stage and there are some 100 research groups across the world racing to develop one. The World Health Organisation has also identified top 7-8 candidates for Covid-19 vaccines.
Recently, President Donald Trump said the US was working with India on developing a vaccine for Covid-19 and recognised Indian-Americans as “great” scientists and researchers, who are contributing in the development of coronavirus vaccine. “We’re also cooperating on vaccine development. Together we will beat the invisible enemy!” Trump said.
Covid-19 vaccine latest updates:
💉 A vaccine, being jointly developed by the University of Oxford and researchers from the US government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), has provided protection against the novel coronavirus in six rhesus macaques, paving the way for human trials, BBC reported. The vaccine helped in producing antibodies capable of fighting the virus.
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According to the report, a group of monkeys was exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. After they were given the vaccine, the six animals had less of the virus in their lungs and airways. The development holds promise as rhesus macaques have similar immune systems to humans.
The vaccine appeared to protect the animals against developing pneumonia. Moreover, the animals also didn’t develop “immune-enhanced disease” – when the vaccine triggers a worse response to a disease.
The vaccine is based on a small part of the virus’s distinctive “spike”. The idea behind the vaccine is that by getting the body to recognise a unique part of the virus, it will know how to react when it is exposed to the whole thing and produce the right antibodies to fight it off.
Covid-19 vaccines Part 1 | Moderna, Novavax to start human trials; Sanofi row
💉 British American Tobacco, the second largest manufacturer of cigarettes, has recently claimed that their tobacco-based vaccine against Covid-19 was now ready for human trials after getting the requisite approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In a statement on Friday, the firm said its experimental vaccine “has been shown to produce a positive immune response” in pre-clinical testing.
The vaccine is based on an artificially built fragment of the novel coronavirus, called an “antigen”, which is inserted into tobacco plants for reproduction. “Once the plants were harvested, the antigen was then purified,” BAT had said in a statement in April.
This antigen, which is essentially a component of the novel coronavirus, would generate an immune response from the body when administered to human beings, the statement had said.
💉 An official behind the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, being jointly developed by Oxford University and drug maker AstraZeneca, said the jab won’t be expensive and produced at a large scale.
“This not going to be an expensive vaccine. It’s going to be a single dose vaccine. It’s going to be made for global supply and it’s going to be made in many different locations,” Adrian Hill, director of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, told Reuters.
The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine was originally developed for MERS, which belongs to the coronavirus family. This vaccine would help the body recognise the “spikes” of the virus which are made of protein.
Early-stage human trials of the vaccine had begun way back in April, making it one of only a handful to have reached that milestone. Hill said as of this week, more than 1,000 people have been dosed in the trial – with around half getting the experimental vaccine and the other half serving as a control group.
Hill told Reuters that up to a million doses of the shot are already being manufactured and will be available by September. “The ambition is shared to get a low-priced, very, very extensively available vaccine as soon as possible,” Hill said.
💉 Inovio Pharmaceuticals, an US-based biotechnology company, recently announced it had enrolled 40 healthy volunteers for its phase 1 trial and expects preliminary data on safety and immune response in late June. In its studies on animals, Inovio said its coronavirus vaccine produced strong antibody and T-cell responses.
A US media report said participants were receiving two doses of vaccine, four weeks apart. The Inovio vaccine focuses on the use of optimised DNA plasmids. Through computer sequencing, these small circles of double-stranded DNA are reorganized to produce a specific immune response in the body. Inovio then delivers these plasmids intradermally or intramuscularly through the company’s own hand-held smart device.
Last week, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations awarded Inovio more than $17 million for development of the vaccine.
💉 CanSino Biologics Inc, a China-based company, has announced a tie-up with Canadian National Research Council on clinical trials of its Recombinant Novel Coronavirus Vaccine (Ad5-nCoV). The Ad5-nCoV vaccine is the first to enter the second phase of human clinical trials and has been listed by WHO as one of the top contenders.
Ad5-nCoV is a genetically engineered vaccine candidate with the replication-defective adenovirus type 5 as the vector to express SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which intends to be used to prevent the disease caused by Covid-19. CanSino Biologics Inc has already manufactured an approved vaccine for Ebola.
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