As global coronavirus cases cross the five million-mark, pharma and biotechnology companies globally are speeding up effort to find a vaccine. Over 110 potential vaccine candidates are in the works to find a viable antidote for SARS-CoV-19 which spread from a wet market in China's Wuhan in December last year. While some vaccine candidates are in the clinical trial stage, others have manifested less favourable results so far. Many researchers are of the opinion that it will take another year to find coronavirus vaccine.
Here's the lowdown on several stages of coronavirus vaccine development in India and across the world:-
India: India is still in the nascent stage of developing the coronavirus vaccine. Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said the trials would begin within 6 months in the country.
"The virus strain isolated at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) laboratory in Pune will be used to develop the vaccine, and this strain has been successfully transferred to Bharat Biotech International Ltd (BBIL). It is expected that the human trials of the vaccine will begin in at least six months," said Dr. Rajni Kant, Director, Regional Medical Research Centre and Head of ICMR.
The ICMR has collaborated with Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) for developing coronavirus vaccine wherein they have formulated a drug whereby an isolated spike protein of coronavirus has been found and researched upon. Besides, Bharat Biotech, has already begun the testing phase of another vaccine against COVID-19. The drug called CoroFlu uses an influenza flu strain, and is developed in collaboration with international virologists.
Oxford University and AstraZeneca Plc vaccine
Oxford University and British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca Plc have started hiring over 10,000 subjects for advanced human studies of coronavirus vaccines they are developing to treat COVID-19 patients.
Part of these trials will be conducted on children from 5 to 12 years of age as well as adults in the age group of 56 and older, according to a statement cited by Bloomberg. The other, larger stage will test the drug's effectiveness in volunteer subjects 18 years and older. Companies across the world are pacing up to develop vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic that has sequestered populations and battered economies.
AstraZeneca's efforts got a boost to get its vaccine tested and ready for use when the US promised around $1.2 billion towards drug development last Thursday. Oxford University, on the other hand, has reportedly begun advanced human trials of its vaccine. The university said last Friday that its researchers have started hiring adults and children to conduct advanced human trials of the vaccine. The said trials will include up to 10,260 volunteers across the United Kingdom, the news agency reported.
American biotech company Moderna is slated to enter stage 2 of its clinical trials in July, while Novavax has begun phase 1 of its clinical trials, whose results are also expected in July. "Administering our vaccine to the first participants of this clinical trial is a significant achievement, bringing us one step closer toward addressing the fundamental need for a vaccine in the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic," said CEO Stanley C. Erck. But, according to experts, the COVID-19 vaccine will not be ready before next year.
Japanese firm AnGes Inc
Meanwhile, Japanese biopharma venture AnGes Inc. will begin clinical trials for its DNA vaccine in July, which is earlier than previously planned. The company has already successfully completed animal trials of the vaccine. "We will examine the results of the toxicity data and swiftly move forward to clinical trials," AnGes said in a statement Monday as cited by Bloomberg. The Japanese firm is in the process of developing the trials with Osaka University since March. If proven effective, the AnGes' vaccine candidate is likely to be approved by the end of this year.
China's Cansino vaccine
Cansino vaccine, developed by a China-based company, has entered phase-two of its clinical trials. In the testing done so far, volunteers who were administered a single dose of the vaccine produced certain immune cells, called T cells, within two weeks while the antibodies, which are needed for immunity, reached a recovered level of 28 days.
Serum Institute of India (SII)
Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) has partnered with Oxford University to pace up the development of a safe, effective, and affordable COVID-19 vaccine. Where Oxford University has reached the human clinical trial stage, SII is expediting its efforts to develop the drug and ensure its availability as early as October 2020.
American pharma giant Pfizer has co-produced the coronavirus vaccine with a German company called BNTECH which has begun the procedure of administering doses to patients. Four vaccine candidates developed out of messenger RNA (mRNA) format are being tested on volunteers to determine the most suited vaccine of the four. The tests are presently being carried out in Germany and parts of the United States (US).