As the world paces towards an efficient coronavirus vaccine, one pertinent question emerges -- when is the COVID vaccine likely in the market? The answer might not be very simplistic. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates believes that multiple doses of the vaccine would be required, unlike what was expected earlier. This throws a spanner in the works. Nevertheless, Pfizer believes that in the best case scenario, a vaccine could be available by year end. Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla, for instance, believes that a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready and available by year-end. Serum Institute is manufacturing the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine that has advanced to the latter stages and has reported positive results in the first phases of trial. A WHO expert believes that people could start getting vaccinated by the first part of next year. Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has said that he is optimistic of a reliable COVID vaccine by fall.
It must be mentioned that there are multiple contenders from several countries in the race to find the first coronavirus vaccine. In India too, several pharmaceutical companies are working towards a vaccine -- some have advanced to trial phases. Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila, Indian Immunologicals, Nynvax, Panacea Biotec, and Biological E are some of the Indian companies working towards the vaccine. Multiple hospitals have started screening volunteers for COVAXIN trials. Screening for volunteers will wrap up in July-end.
Here are the latest coronavirus vaccine news updates from across the world:
12:15 pm: Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker: COVAXIN results to take three months
AIIMS said that the COVAXIN trials would take at least three months for researchers to arrive at the first set of data. "It (starting trials) is heartening because it's an indigenous vaccine; making a new vaccine is an achievement. Even if a vaccine is first developed somewhere else in the world, India will be mass producing it. We are good at it," said AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria.
11:55 am: Chinese coronavirus vaccines: CanSino shows promising results
CanSino Biologics' experimental coronavirus vaccine has shown promising results in a mid-stage clinical study. A Lancet report said that the shot was shown to be safe and had induced an immune response.
11:45 am: Coronavirus vaccine india: Two private UP hospitals to conduct trials
Two private hospitals in Uttar Pradesh will conduct trials of Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN. Prakhar Hospital in Kanpur and Rana Hospital and Trauma Centre in Gorakhpur are among the 12 institutes across the country where trials will be conducted. "We are getting a number of calls from healthy people every day who want to volunteer for the clinical trial of Covaxin," said Dr JS Kushwaha, owner of Prakhar Hospital to Hindustan Times.
11:40 am: Latest News on Coronavirus vaccine: 'Too early to sign deal for vaccine,' says Harsh Vardhan
Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has said that it is too early to sign a deal with pharma companies to procure coronavirus vaccines. "I do not know about the details of this particular vaccine candidate but there are more than 200 trials happening around the world currently for developing a vaccine against Covid-19, and all are currently far from the stage of manufacturing. None of these are a ready vaccine, rather, these are merely vaccine candidates," he said. He also added that it is too premature to put put government's vaccine procurement and roll-out plan in public.
11:30 am: Coronavirus vaccine: When will we have one?
Boris Johnson's medical advisor has said that the chances of a coronavirus vaccine by year-end is 'very low'. "No one should be under any illusions: the chance of us getting a vaccine before Christmas that actually is highly effective are, in my view, very low. Low probability for this winter flu season," said Chris Whitty, senior medical advisor to Johnson. Meanwhile Oxford University-AstraZeneca is likely to be available this year, says manufacturer Serum Institute of India.
11:25 am: Covid-19 Vaccine Latest Updates India: COVAXIN trials in Bhubaneshwar
Professor G Sahoo, Dean, IMS and SUM Hospital, Bhubaneswar said that around 30-40 candidates would be chosen for the human trials of Bharat Biotech's coronavirus vaccine candidates. The screening started on Wednesday. "Recruitment and screening of volunteers have already started. After screening, we will select healthy individuals between the age of 18-55 for the first phase of trials. We will start the first phase of a human clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine from Wednesday, after that volunteer will be in contact with us for two to three months," Sahoo said.
11:15 am: Chinese coronavirus vaccine: Bangladesh says no to China's plans
China's plans to use human 'guinea pigs' in South Asia for vaccine trials is not likely to succeed. Bangladesh said hat it is not ready for immediate trials of Chinese vaccines. Mahmood-uz-Jahan, director of Bangladesh Medical Research Council said that they will only decide what is acceptable after consultations.
11:00 am: Coronavirus vaccine India: Bharat Biotech to finish screening by July end
Bharat Biotech, maker of coronavirus vaccine candidate COVAXIN will wrap up screening of volunteers for human trials by July end. A total of 375 volunteers would be picked for the trials. Around 600 volunteers at 12 locations across India are undergoing "safety and screening" studies.
10:50 am: Can a cured coronavirus patient get infection again?
The debate on this is still on. A study in the UK suggests that a cured person might develop antibodies to fight coronavirus. Dr Ashish Bhalla and professor at GD Puri of PGIMER, Chandigarh, said that just mere presence of the virus in nasal cavity does not mean one is infected. "But how many of them develop a severe disease is still not very clear because these numbers are very small," he said.
10:42 am: Pfizer coronavirus vaccine possible by year end in best-case scenario
Pfizer and collaborator BioNTech are hoping to seek regulatory approval as early as October. In the best-case scenario there would be a coronavirus vaccine by the year end, it said. "An interesting thing about this vaccine approach is that the mRNA is enclosed in a lipid nanoparticle, so you can imagine the complexity of that. At this site, we are looking at engineering that particle and analyses for it that will allow clinical trials as well as the manufacturing to occur," Burkhardt said," John Burkhardt, Senior Vice President, Drug Safety Research and Development at Pfizer
10:33 am: France among first to get Sanofi vaccine
French President Emmanuel Macron said that France would be among the first countries to get access to a potential vaccine being developed by French drugmaker Sanofi. The European Union is in talks with Sanofi to secure 300 million doses of its potential vaccine candidate by second half of 2021. The EU has undertaken an outreach campaign to several companies including Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, CureVac, and BioNTech among others.
10:26 am: COVID vaccine hype disservice to public: Merck CEO
Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier said that those who are promising a coronavirus vaccine by year-end are doing a grave disservice to the public. "What worries me the most is that the public is so hungry, is so desperate to go back to normalcy, that they are pushing us to move things faster and faster. Ultimately, if you are going to use a vaccine in billions of people, you'd better know what that vaccine does," he said.
10:22 am: Don't have to wait for vaccine to fight coronavirus: WHO
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that one does not need to wait for a coronavirus vaccine to fight the virus. Strong leadership, community engagement, and a comprehensive strategy with a focus on contact tracing can go a long way in controlling the outbreak, he said.
10:17 am: COVID-19 not mutating fast enough
Scientists have been monitoring the coronavirus vaccine and have stated that COVID-19 does not mutate fast enough. This is good news for drugmakers as they can stay on track in the development of a COVID vaccine. "There's nothing alarming about the way the coronavirus is mutating or the speed at which it's mutating. We don't think this will be a problem (for vaccines) in the short term," said Emma Hodcroft, a molecular epidemiologist at the University of Basel in Switzerland to NPR. A senior scientist at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory also said that there have been very little mutation observed so far.
10:09 am: Can flu shot reduce coronavirus risk?
A professor of health sciences at James Madison University, Audrey Burnett, has said that getting a flu shit could lessen the risk of coronavirus. It would also help the immune system. "I think it is important for the general public to understand that COVID-19 is not the only virus or infectious disease in our society currently. the best protection against COVID-19, in particular, will be its own vaccine. Until one is approved, eating healthy, staying physically active and taking supplements like zinc, and vitamins C and D, utilising hand sanitiser and wearing masks will help keep one's immune system strong," said Burnett.
10:03 am: Nobel laureates advocate 'human challenge trials'
Over 100 top scientists including 15 Nobel laureates have advocated for volunteers to be exposed to coronavirus for vaccine development purposes. This deliberate exposure is called 'human challenge trials'. It is a controversial move, especially for a disease like coronavirus that does not have a cure yet. "If challenge trials can safely and effectively speed the vaccine development process, there is a formidable presumption in favour of their use, which would require a very compelling ethical justification to overcome," the scientists wrote in a letter to US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
9:58 am: WHO warns of decline in other vaccinations
WHO and UNICEF have warned that there is an alarming decline in the vaccinations of other diseases amid coronavirus pandemic. "These disruptions threaten to reverse hard-won progress to reach more children and adolescents with a wider range of vaccines, which has already been hampered by a decade of stalling coverage," stated WHO. Vaccines can be delivered safely even during the pandemic, said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. He called on countries to ensure these essential life-saving programmes continue.
9:53 am: Economic damage will be done even with COVID vaccine by Q4: Raghuram Rajan
Raghuram Rajan said that there would be extensive economic damage even if a COVID vaccine is approved by fourth quarter. "You have to vaccinate a lot of people. So, the earliest people are going to feel safe going into crowded restaurants is probably going to be by the middle of next year. If everything goes according to plan - things are not going to go according to plan," he said in an interview to CNBC.
9:49 am: Pining hopes on COVID vaccine not right strategy: Harvard expert
Former professor at Harvard University's medical and public health schools Dr William Haseltine told CNN that pining hopes on a coronavirus vaccine is not the right strategy and that a more comprehensive approach is required. "Pinning all our hopes on a vaccine that works immediately is not the right strategy," he said. He advocated a broad public health strategy to combat coronavirus.
9:43 am: US-China: Friends or foes?
The US Justice Department accused Chinese hackers of targeting vaccine development on behalf of the country's intelligence service. Hackers Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi were deemed by the department as a blended threats who work on behalf of China's spy services or for their own gain. The indictment includes charges of trade secret theft and wire fraud conspiracy against the hackers, who federal prosecutors say stole information not only for themselves but also that they knew would be of interest and value to the Chinese government.
Meanwhile, Trump has also said that if China produced good work, the US would work with them for a coronavirus vaccine. "We are willing to work with anybody that's going to get us a good result," Donald Trump said when asked whether he would be ready to work with China.
9:35 am: Will take vaccine first if asked, said Trump
Donald Trump said if he was asked, he would take the coronavirus vaccine first. Speaking to Fox News, Trump said, "I would absolutely if they wanted me to and they thought it was right, I'd take it first or I'd take it last." He, however, said that he would be criticised if he took the vaccine first and would be criticised if he took it last. He said that if he took it first, his critics would say that Trump is selfish but if he took it last they would say Trump does not believe in the programme.
9:25 am: Need multiple COVID vaccine doses, says Bill Gates
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said that unlike what the aim was in the beginning, it does not seem like a potential coronavirus vaccine could be effective in one dose. "None of the vaccines at this point appear like they'll work with a single dose. That was the hope at the very beginning," he told in an interview to CBS News. Gates has donated $300 million towards efforts to combat coronavirus through Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
9:20 am: Canada doubles order for vaccine syringes
Canada has doubled the order for coronavirus vaccine syringes from 38 million to 78 million. These syringes are being made by BD. The company aims to fulfil the international orders, including 100 million from the UK before the year end. BD said its focus on COVID syringes will not impact its other injector production plans.
9:10 am: Oxford vaccine Covishield in production in India
The Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, Covishield, is under production in India, as mentioned in a report in The Hindu. Serum Institute of India that is producing the vaccine aims to manufacture 1 billion doses. CEO Adar Poonawalla also said that 50 per cent of the vaccine doses would be reserved for India.
9:05 am: US secures 100 million doses of potential vaccine for $1.95 billion
The Trump administration has agreed to spend billions of dollars to secure coronavirus vaccine doses. The US government will pay Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech $1.95 billion for their potential coronavirus vaccine. Pfizer will deliver the doses if the product receives Emergency Use Authorisation or licensure from the US Food and Drug Administration, after completing demonstration of safety and efficacy in a large Phase 3 clinical trial. Pfizer and BioNTech expect to manufacture up to 100 million doses globally by the end of 2020, and more than 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.
9:00 am: Russia optimistic for fall-release of coronavirus vaccine
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said that a reliable COVID vaccine is possible by fall. He said that 17 scientific organisations are working on more than 26 type of COVID vaccines. Four vaccines have proven to be safe so far. Two of them are at the final stages of clinical trial. "I am convinced that our solutions will be in demand in Russia and around the world," Mishustin said.
8:55 am: Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker: Oxford University vaccine by year end?
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, that is producing the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine believes that the vaccine could be available by year end. "Based on the success of the trials, we are expecting it to be available by the end of this year. I believe by the first quarter of next year, it will start reaching the masses," he said in an interview.
Similarly Professor Adrian Hill who is heading the team of researchers at Oxford has also said that the vaccine is possible within this year. "If we got a result in, say, October and we had emergency use licensure (ph) by November, we would certainly hope to have many millions of doses available then in different countries from different manufacturers," Hill said in an interview in NPR.
8:45 am: Don't expect vaccine before 2021: WHO
Head of WHO's emergencies programme Mike Ryan has said that while there are multiple contenders and many companies have made significant progress, the likely time for a coronavirus vaccine in the market is not before 2021. "Realistically it is going to be the first part of next year before we start seeing people getting vaccinated," he said. Ryan further added that there must be fairness involved in the distribution process. "Vaccines for this pandemic are not for the wealthy, they are not for the poor, they are for everybody," he said.