India has made significant strides in the global as well as local efforts to search for a coronavirus vaccine. There are several developments taking place in India and across the world. Firstly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged $15 million to vaccine alliance GAVI. Additionally, Sun Pharma has entered Phase 2 of the clinical trials of AQCH drug that can be helped in the treatment of coronavirus. Meanwhile, WHO has resumed clinical trials of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine believed to be beneficial in the treatment of coronavirus. The authors that claimed that HCQ can pose risks to the health of COVID-19 patients have also retracted their article in Lancet. Trump administration has also selected five companies that are most likely to produce a coronavirus vaccine. The government would help these companies speed up the process.
Here are some of the key updates on COVID-19 vaccine from India and the world:
PM Modi on Thursday pledged $15 million as India's contribution to the corona vaccine alliance GAVI at the Global Vaccine Summit hosted by the UK. He pointed out that India's support for GAVI is not only financial but that the huge demand in the country brings down the global price of the product. "In today's challenging context, I want to reiterate that India stands in solidarity with the world. Our proven capacity to produce quality medicines and vaccines at low cost, our own domestic experience in rapidly expanding immunisation, and our considerable scientific research talent are all at the service of humanity," he said.
The summit was aimed to raise funds to further immunise 300 million children in the world's poorest countries. PM Modi pledged India's support and highlighted that the country is the fourth-largest producer of vaccines.
AstraZeneca and Serum Institute of India have signed a licencing agreement to supply 1 billion doses of the Oxford University vaccine to middle and low-income countries, including India. "AstraZeneca recognises that the vaccine may not work but is committed to progressing the clinical programme with speed and scaling up manufacturing at risk," the company said.
Meanwhile, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries said on Friday that it will start the second phase of clinical trials for the drug AQCH for the treatment of coronavirus. The phytopharmaceutical plant-derived drug was given the approval by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for the Phase 2 trials. Sun Pharma has also received the approval to initiate clinical trial of another drug Nafamostat Mesilate.
The clinical trial will be conducted across 12 centres in India in 210 patients for 10 days. The results of the clinical trial are expected by October, the company said in a BSE filing.
In the US, the Trump administration has chosen five companies believed to be ahead in the race to find a COVID vaccine. The federal government is aiming to identify the most promising candidates at an early stage, ensure that the process is sped up and the winner can be quickly manufactured.
The five companies are Moderna, Oxford University-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Pfizer, according to the New York Times. Each of the companies have taken a different approach to find a coronavirus vaccine.
Moreover, Brazil will start testing the experimental vaccine created by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Brazil's health surveillance agency Anvisa authorised the test that will include some 2,000 people and will be conducted with the support of the Health Ministry. "The most important thing is to carry out this stage of the study now, when the epidemiological curve is still rising and the results may be more assertive," said Lily Yin Weckx, coordinator of the Reference Center for Special Immunobiologicals (CRIE) at University of Sao Paulo.
Influential medical journal Lancet article that found HCQ risks have been retracted by its authors. Three of the authors of the article retracted it, citing concerns about the quality and veracity of data in the study. The three authors said Surgisphere, the company that provided the data, could not transfer the data set for independent review. They said that in such a case they can no longer vouch for the veracity of the data sources. The fourth author declined to comment.