While researchers from across the globe are working together to find a coronavirus vaccine, new challenges have emerged in the endeavour. Some researchers believe that a COVID-19 vaccine might not work well for older people who are at the risk of becoming seriously ill. This means that the focus must also be on immunising others around them. Prof Peter Openshaw, from Imperial College, told the House of Lords science and technology committee that they are looking at targeting different groups with the vaccine. "Sometimes it is possible to protect a vulnerable group by targeting another group and this, for example, is being done with influenza. In the past few years, the UK has been at the forefront of rolling out the live attenuated vaccine for children," he said.
Meanwhile, US physician and immunologist Dr Anthony Fauci sounded optimistic and said that finding a coronavirus vaccine is a matter of "when, not if". He told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that they feel "cautiously optimistic based on the concerted effort". He also urged people to not step out. "Plan A, don't go in a crowd. Plan B, if you do, make sure you wear a mask," he said.
Here are the updates on coronavirus vaccine from across the world:
United Arab Emirates has given its approval for the final stage of human trials of a coronavirus vaccine developed by Beijing-based China National Biotec Group Co. The company was given approval to conduct Phase III trial of its coronavirus vaccine. CNBG will partner with Abu Dhabi-based AI and cloud computing firm G42 to carry out the trial and local production of the COVID vaccine.
Additionally researchers at Imperial College London have administered their coronavirus vaccine to the first healthy volunteer. "We have reached a significant milestone in this ground-breaking study with the first dose of a self-amplifying RNA vaccine delivered safely. We are now poised to test the vaccine in the dose evaluation phase before moving forward to evaluating it in larger numbers," said Chief Investigator Dr Katrina Pollock from Imperial's Department of Infectious Disease. She added that thousands have signed up for the ongoing vaccine studies.
South Africa has initiated clinical trials of the University of Oxford coronavirus vaccine candidate licenced to AstraZeneca. University of Witwatersrand in South Africa is working with Oxford to evaluate the vaccine candidate. This is South Africa's first trial of a coronavirus vaccine. The study will be led by Witwatersrand University vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi. It has received the approval of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).
Brazil has also initiated the clinical trials for the Oxford University COVID vaccine. It is sponsored by Lemann Foundation and will be administered to 2,000 health workers in Sao Paulo and 1,000 in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's health regulator Anvisa approved the trials earlier this month.
Sanofi Pasteur has pushed up the date of its Phase 1 and 2 trials to September from December. It has also striked a $425 million deal to broaden its partnership with a smaller biotech company. "We are the only vaccine in the race that's off a proven platform that works in scale," said CEO Paul Hudson about the corona vaccine it is developing with GSK.