As several companies are pacing up to find a potent antidote to COVID-19 infection, researchers have devised a new "ultrapotent" coronavirus vaccine candidate that has induced "extremely high levels" of protective antibodies in animal models.
In vaccine news, Brazilian health regulator Anvisa has approved the resumption of human clinical trials of Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) experimental coronavirus vaccine.
In another key development, Mexico has secured first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Chinese pharma company CanSino Biologics Inc.
Here are latest developments related to coronavirus vaccine:
"Ultrapotent" COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate
Researchers, including those from the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine in the US, have developed a vaccine candidate for COVID-19 that produces "extremely high levels" or protective antibodies in animal models, an advance that may lead to a novel therapeutic to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
According to scientists, the nanoparticle vaccine produces virus-neutralising antibodies in mice at levels much greater than is seen in people who have recovered from the disease.
The study, published in the journal Cell, noted that it generates ten times more neutralising antibodies in mice, even at a six-fold lower vaccine dose, and also shows a strong B-cell immune response after administration, which can be critical for a durable vaccine effect.
When a single non-human primate was immunised with the vaccine, the scientists said the candidate produced neutralising antibodies targeting multiple different sites on the spike protein of the coronavirus, which it uses to enter human cells.
They said this may ensure protection against mutated strains of the virus, should they arise. According to the study, the molecular structure of the vaccine roughly mimics that of a virus, which may account for its enhanced ability to provoke an immune response.
"We hope that our nanoparticle platform may help fight this pandemic that is causing so much damage to our world," said Neil King, a co-author of the study from UW Medicine. "The potency, stability, and manufacturability of this vaccine candidate differentiate it from many others under investigation," King added.
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine trial resumes in Brazil
Brazilian health regulator Anvisa has authorised the resumption of a clinical trial of Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) experimental COVID-19 vaccine, according to a statement from the government agency on Tuesday.
The J&J vaccine is one of four being tested in Brazil, which has the world's third worst outbreak behind the US and India, and the second-highest COVID-19 death toll. The company's trial in Brazil had been suspended since October 12, so a safety panel could evaluate an unexplained illness of a participant in its planned 60,000-person Phase-III study. Testing of the vaccine in the US resumed last month.
Anvisa said when the trial was interrupted, 12 volunteers in Brazil, all from Rio de Janeiro, had either received a dose of the vaccine or a placebo.
The study in the South American country is being conducted in 11 states, and is expected to involve up to 7,560 people over the age of 18, Anvisa stated.
Mexico receives coronavirus vaccine from CanSino Biologics
Mexico has received the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Chinese pharmaceutical company CanSino Biologics Inc. for a late stage-trial on between 10,000 and 15,000 volunteers, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Tuesday.
The country aims to vaccinate nearly all of its population against COVID-19 by the end of 2021 after reaching accords with pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organisation-backed COVAX plan.
"On October 30, the first doses were received to carry out phase three of clinical trials of the candidate vaccine from Cansino Bio," Ebrard said at a news conference, adding that it would be one of the world's largest COVID-19 clinical trials.