The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a worldwide quest to find a vaccine for the deadly disease. Similarly, many pharma companies are also looking for drugs that can be use in coronavirus treatment. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), presently there are 13 experimental drugs being tested on humans, while over 120 others are in the earlier stages of development.
Meanwhile, according to Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at WHO, around 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine would be ready by the end of 2021.
However, many scientists still anticipate that a safe and effective vaccine to treat coronavirus patients may take 12-18 months to develop.
Biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms comprising Moderna Inc, and AstraZeneca, have been accelerating the pace of their production, promising millions of supplies of their experimental vaccines before the year-end. Last month, global drug firm Pfizer said that a vaccine to treat COVID-19 patients could be ready by October-end.
Here are the latest updates regarding the COVID-19 vaccine/drug development: -
- GlaxoSmithKline-Clover Biopharmaceuticals
British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, in partnership with Chinese company Clover Biopharmaceuticals, has started human tests. Initial results from the study are likely to come out in August, following which a larger efficacy trial is expected to begin later in 2020, Glaxo said in a statement.
- Sinovac Biotech-Instituto Butantan
Brazil recently announced that Instituto Butantan has signed a deal with Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac to produce an experimental coronavirus vaccine. Sinovac recently announced "positive preliminary" results of phase I and II clinical trials for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, CoronaVac, saying it can induce a positive immune response.
The phase I/II clinical trials were designed as randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled studies. In total, 743 healthy volunteers, aged from 18 to 59 years old, enrolled in the trials. Of those, 143 volunteers are in phase I, and 600 volunteers are in phase II, the Beijing-based company said in a statement.
- AstraZeneca-University of Oxford
Germany and partner countries in the European Union recently pledged funds for the production of an experimental vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. Britain and the United States had previously made commitments to secure hundreds of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is based on the so-called viral vector technology.
- Glenmark's drug Favipiravir hits Indian market
Mumbai-based Glenmark Pharmaceuticals has become the first Indian company to launch an antiviral drug-Favipiravir under brand name FabiFlu, to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 patients. The drug will be sold at retail chemist outlets as well as hospitals across India after the company secured drug regulator Drug Controller General of India's (DCGI) approval to manufacture and market Favipiravir in India. The drug is priced at Rs 103 per tablet Rs 3,500 for a pack of 34 tablets.
- After FabiFlu, drug regulator approves Covifor for COVID-19 treatment
Hyderabad-based Hetero Labs announced on Sunday that it had received regulatory approval from DCGI to manufacture and market the generic version of antiviral drug Remedesivir for treating COVID-19 patients. Hetero's generic version of Remdesivir will be marketed under the brand name 'Covifor' in India. The drug will be available in a 100 mg vial (injectable) which has to be administered intravenously in a hospital setting under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner, the company said in a statement.