As countries across the globe continue to find a coronavirus vaccine, more and more pharmaceutical companies have joined the endeavour. Indian biotech firm Panacea is one of the latest joinees. Meanwhile Johnson and Johnson has said that it would start human trials in July. Eli Lilly and Co has also said that it might have a coronavirus drug ready for use as early as September. Additionally China is offering employees of state-run companies the option to get inoculated with two vaccines in development.
Here are the latest updates on development of coronavirus vaccine and drug:
Johnson and Johnson has said that it has pushed up clinical trials by two months. Human trials would now start in the second-half of July. This would allow J&J to take part in the clinical trials programme planned by the US government that aims to find a vaccine by the year end. "Based on the strength of the preclinical data we have seen so far and interactions with the regulatory authorities, we have been able to further accelerate the clinical development," said Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels. The J&J trials that will take place in the United States and Belgium would test the corona vaccine for safety and efficacy in 1,045 volunteers between ages 18 to 55 years.
UK-based GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) plans to roll out a billion doses of the potential COVID-19 vaccine by the second half of 2021. GSK is developing a vaccine candidate with pharma major Sanofi. GSK will utilise its well-established 'adjuvant' platform and Sanofi's antigen technology to scale up vaccine doses. After the clinical trials are cleared GSK is confident of supplying a billion doses through its network in Canada and Europe.
A prominent Italian health expert has said that the first doses of coronavirus could be ready as early as autumn-winter. The expert said that Europe is ahead of the US in the race to find a vaccine. "Europe is far ahead of the United States in terms of new coronavirus vaccine, and we are getting ready for having a consistent part of it produced in Italy," said Walter Ricciardi, adviser to the Italian Health Ministry for the COVID-19 emergency. "With respect to the timing, if all goes well, we might have the first doses of the vaccine in Europe, and of course in Italy, by autumn-winter," he said. Ricciardi said that a COVID vaccine research project conducted by an Anglo-Italian partnership was in a more advanced development phase as compared with others.
Japanese biotech company AnGes Inc expects its coronavirus vaccine to be ready by the first half of 2021 if production and supply goes smoothly. The firm is repurposing its hypertension vaccine that had already passed high safety and regulatory standards.
Meanwhile, in China, employees of some large state-run companies are being given the option to get inoculated with two coronavirus vaccines currently in development. Employees travelling overseas can volunteer to be administered COVID-19 vaccines developed by Sinopharm's subsidiary China National Biotec Group (CNBG). There are five Chinese coronavirus vaccine candidates that are in the human trial stage and competing with the likes of Moderna and AstraZeneca.
Indian firm Panacea is partnering with US-based Refana Inc to make a potential COVID vaccine. It aims to make more than 500 million doses of the corona vaccine candidate, with around 40 million doses ready by early next year.
US-based Eli Lilly and Co has said that it could have a coronavirus drug authorised for use as early as September if all goes well with either of two antibody therapies it is testing. "For the treatment indication, particularly, this could go pretty fast. If in August or September we're seeing the people who got treated are not progressing to hospitalisation, that would be powerful data and could lead to emergency use authorisation. So that puts you in the fall time: September, October, November is not unreasonable," said Chief Scientific Officer Daniel Skovronsky. He added that Lilly is also doing preclinical studies of a third antibody treatment for coronavirus that could enter human clinical trials in the coming weeks.
Additionally, Gilead Sciences has said that its antiviral drug Remdesivir has prevented respiratory disease in macaque monkeys infected with coronavirus. Remdesivir is the first drug to show improvement in human trials.