In an update on 'draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines', the WHO data says four vaccines under human trials are from China. Except for the DNA-based vaccine attempted by US-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals, all the other vaccines are now undergoing Phase 1 and Phase 2 human trials together, to fast track the development process. Attempts are to develop a vaccine to beat the coronavirus at least by the end of this year. The virus has killed over 2.5 lakh people so far and infected over 3.5 million worldwide. Regulatory agencies have fast-tracked the vaccine development, which normally takes 7-10 years to reach the market. Typically Phase 1 and Phase 2 requires testing in about 500-1,000 volunteers each and takes at least 2-3 years for completing the trials.
The Chinese vaccines under development are from CanSino Biological Inc-Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, Wuhan Institute of Biological Product-Sinopharm, Beijing Institute of Biological Products with Sinopharm, and an independent SARS platform-based inactivated vaccine from Sinovac.
Other vaccines that are in the Phase 1/2 are from the US-based Moderna with the US Government's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), University of Oxford's vaccine being developed with multiple partners including India's Serum Institute of India, BioNTech-Fosun Pharma-Pfizer combine's RNA vaccine, and the US-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals DNA vaccine.
Except for the vaccines attempted by BioNTech and Moderna, all the other vaccines under trials are based on proven technologies. "It does not matter whether the technology is new or old, it is just a vehicle to ensure the antibodies of the virus are transported into cells to develop immunity," Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Executive Chairperson of biotech major Biocon told Business Today in a recent interaction.
The WHO document also says out of the 100 projects under preclinical stages, Indian companies like Zydus Cadila (DNA vaccine and a replicating viral vector vaccine), Codagenix-Serum Institute of India, Indian Immunologicals with Griffith University, Bharat Biotech with the Thomas Jefferson University, Biological E Ltd, and the UW Madison-FluGen-Bharat Biotech combine are working on vaccine candidates.
Meanwhile, an agency report quoting Israeli defence minister Naftali Bennett said Israel Government's Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) has developed an antibody to the novel coronavirus and is going to patent and mass produce the potential treatment. In an another development, more than $8 billion was pledged by 40 countries and donors to develop coronavirus vaccine and fund research into the diagnosis and treatment, in an online summit hosted yesterday by the European Union (EU). Of the money raised, $4.4 billion will be for vaccine development, $2 billion for a treatment, and $1.6 billion for producing test kits.
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