New Delhi: As the novel coronavirus pandemic persists across the world, researchers are working rapidly to produce a safe vaccine, which can help combat the COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2. More than 110 coronavirus vaccines are being developed globally with at least 10 candidates already in human trials. The Indian government on Thursday said that it has identified at least six local vaccine candidates with 30 groups trying to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
With some COVID-19 vaccine candidates, including US company Moderna’s mRNA-1273 and CanSino Bio’s Ad5-nCoV, showing promising results in early trials, experts are hopeful that we might have a vaccine by the end of this year. Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease physician, told CNN in an interview that a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready as early as November and December. However, epidemiology warned that the coronavirus may never go away even after a vaccine is developed and deployed. Less than six months into the coronavirus outbreak, here’s a look at the current state of vaccine development.
Indian COVID-19 vaccine and drug development progress: On Thursday, Principal Scientific Adviser K VijayRaghavan said that about 30 groups in India are working to develop coronavirus vaccines. At least six vaccine candidates have been identified by India and about 10 drugs are being repurposed and are in different stages of tests for use in the treatment of COVID-19. At a press briefing on the development of drugs, vaccines and technologies for COVID-19 during the pandemic, he revealed that out of 30, 20 are working at a good pace. VijayRaghavan also added that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the AICTE have embarked on a drug discovery hackathon.
GlaxoSmithKline’s pandemic vaccine booster: Britain’s firm GlaxoSmithKline Plc said on Thursday it plans to produce 1 billion doses of vaccine efficacy boosters, or adjuvants – an ingredient that makes vaccine wok better – next year for use in COVID-19 treatment. GSK’s adjuvants have been shown to create a stronger and longer-lasting immunity against infections and can reduce the amount of protein required in a vaccine, making way for higher-volume production, Reuters reported.
“We believe that more than one vaccine will be needed to address this global pandemic and we are working with partners around the world to do so,” GSK Global Vaccines President Roger Connor added.
The world’s largest vaccine maker is working on its own vaccine against COVID-19 with French drugmaker Sanofi to fight the deadly illness, which has claimed at least 357,311 lives worldwide so far.
Novavax’s vaccine: The American biotech company announced that it has begun human trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, NVX‑CoV2373, in Australia. Novavax said the phase 1/2 clinical trial will assess if its vaccine engineered from the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 virus is safe and triggers an immune response in humans. The Maryland-based firm has bought a manufacturing plant from Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker by volume. The firm aims to produce one billion doses of its Covid-19 vaccine next year.
Moderna’s mRNA vaccine: Moderna’s vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus ‘mRNA-1273’ is among the top contenders in the race. The company is set to begin the phase 2 trial after its experimental vaccine showed positive results in the phase 1 clinical trial. Moderna reported that its mRNA vaccine produced protective antibodies against novel coronavirus in eight volunteers who received two doses of the vaccine.
CanSino Bio’s Ad5-nCoV vaccine: Chinese company CanSino Biologics Inc said its experimental vaccine, dubbed Ad5-nCoV, was safe and generated an immune response in volunteers enrolled in phase 1 clinical trial. The experimental vaccine built using a weakened common cold virus (adenovirus) to deliver a fragment of genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 is currently in phase 2 trial.
Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine: Oxford University’s vaccine ‘ChAdOx1 nCoV-19’ has reportedly entered advanced human trials. Researchers said clinical trials are progressing very well and they are now initiating studies to see how well the vaccine induces immune responses in older adults. The studies will also assess whether the vaccine can provide protection in the wider population. Oxford scientists said a million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine could be ready as early as September. The vaccine project is being run by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group.