While the launch of a coronavirus vaccine still seems a bit away, prospects appear much better than a month or so ago. As pharmaceutical companies are heading towards the finish line, new alliances are being formed. Serum Institute of India and AstraZeneca have also joined forces with other companies to produce COVID-19 vaccine apart from Oxford. Johnson and Johnson has also said that it would provide 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to the US. Meanwhile, Novavax has become the latest company to show encouraging results in the preliminary trials. With so many COVID-19 vaccines, the question is now when, not if.
According to US President Donald Trump believes that a coronavirus vaccine would be available before the 2020 elections. He was asked if a vaccine could be available "much before" the year ends. When asked if it would be before November 3, the day of the elections, Trump said, "Oh I think, I think in some cases, it's possible before. But right around that time. We have great companies, great, these are the greatest companies in the world."
Meanwhile, top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said he does not expect coronavirus to be eradicated but is hopeful that there would be a vaccine before the year ends. "There will be, I think, enough vaccines if everything turns out to be successful. To get vaccine not only to the countries that are the classical rich countries but those who are low and middle income that would not be able to readily have access to a vaccine. That's what we're hoping to do," he told VOA News.
Additionally, Bill Gates has cautioned everyone and said that the first vaccine might not be the best one. "The initial vaccine, in terms of its effectiveness against sickness and transmission, won't be ideal and may not have a long duration," he predicted in an interview to Bloomberg.
Here are the latest updates on COVID-19 vaccine from India and across the world:
Novavax: The US company is the latest in a long line of pharmaceutical companies to have shown encouraging results in the initial stages. In one study, 56 volunteers who were administered doses of the candidate produced a high level of antibodies without any side effects. In another trial it was found that the COVID-19 vaccine candidate protected monkeys against coronavirus. John Moore, a virologist at Weill Cornell Medicine said the company's results were the most impressive that he has seen so far.
Additionally, the Maryland-based company stated in its exchange filing that it has entered into a partnership with Serum Institute of India for "development, co-formulation, filling and finishing, registration and commercialisation" of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373. Serum Institute would have exclusive rights for the supply of the vaccine in India. SII is also manufacturing the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Zydus Cadila: The pharma company said that it has successfully concluded its Phase I of human trials where the coronavirus vaccine was found to be safe and effective. It started Phase II on August 6. "The Phase I dosing to establish the safety of ZyCoV-D is an important milestone. All the subjects in Phase I clinical trial were closely monitored in a clinical pharmacological unit for 24 hours post dosing for safety and for 7 days thereafter and the vaccine was found to be very safe. We now begin the Phase II clinical trials and look forward to evaluating the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine in a larger population," said Pankaj R Patel, Chairman Zydus Cadila.
AstraZeneca: The pharma company that is collaborating with Oxford University to formulate a coronavirus vaccine has signed a deal with a Chinese firm for its production. China's Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products will supply the vaccine to mainland China. To meet market demand in China, Shenzhen Kangtai is obliged to make sure it has an annual production capacity of at least 100 million doses of the experimental shot AZD1222, which AstraZeneca co-developed with researchers at Oxford University, by the end of this year, and a capacity of at least 200 million doses by the end of next year, AstraZeneca said in a statement.
Johnson and Johnson: The company said that it will develop and deliver 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the US in a deal amounting to more than $1 billion. The coronavirus vaccine is currently in the early stages of human trial. Its advanced stages are likely to begin in September. "We are scaling up production in the US and worldwide to deliver a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for emergency use," said Dr Paul Stoffels, Chief Science Officer at Johnson & Johnson, in a statement.