Coronavirus cases across the globe are inching toward a grim milestone. Globally, the number of Covid-19 infections will soon touch the 7 million-mark. What started with a few hundred cases in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, went on to take the shape of a pandemic, sparing no corners of the world.
With the rapid rise in the number of infections, the imminent need to arrive at a vaccine for coronavirus grows more urgent. A report published in the medical journal the Lancet describes vaccine development as “typically a long game”.
“The US Food and Drug Administration only approved the first vaccine against Ebola virus last year,” it states. However, pharmaceutical and drug-making companies across the world are leaving no stone unturned to arrive at the Covid-19 vaccine.
Ten vaccines against Covid-19 are in the clinical trials phase. Researchers at the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca hope to have the first phase 3 data in hand this summer.
“Although many infectious disease experts argue that even 18 months for a first vaccine is an incredibly aggressive schedule, a few optimists believe that hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine might be ready for roll-out by the end of 2020,” the Lancet report states.
Here are the latest developments:
• Moderna’s mRNA-1273, which entered into clinical trials just 66 days after SARS-CoV-2 was first sequenced, showcases the potential for nucleotide-based vaccines, the Lancet report states.
• “The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca have embraced a recombinant vaccine called AZD1222 to achieve a similar effect, engineering a chimpanzee adenovirus to carry DNA for the spike antigen,” the report read.
• Other candidates like Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline are working together on a protein subunit approach. The two companies hope to start a phase 1 trial later this year.
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• Biopharma major AstraZeneca has entered into an agreement with the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), among other world-wide vaccine manufacturers, to produce the vaccine currently under trial at the University of Oxford on a mass scale, if successful.
• AstraZeneca cancer drug shows promising results in the fight against Covid-19, Bloomberg reported. The study was conducted on a small group of 19 people wherein experts found that a cancer drug from AstraZeneca could be repurposed to help Covid-19 patients experiencing extreme immune reactions.
• Indian drugmaker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd said on Friday it was testing a plant-derived drug, AQCH, for the potential treatment of Covid-19 as part of a mid-stage trial, with results expected by October.
• Clinical trials of phytopharmaceutical ACQH began on Friday, said S Mande, director-general, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. “We’re going to try it against Covid-19. It’s historic in modern medicine, especially in India. We’ve a chance to tap our traditional knowledge system and its limitless possibilities,” he said.
(With inputs from the Lancet, agencies)