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Coronavirus vaccine update: Russia completes world's first human trial

In a major breakthrough, Russia has become the first nation to complete clinical trials of a Covid-19 vaccine on humans, and the results prove the medication's effectiveness, according to media reports. The total number of coronavirus cases across the world has crossed the 13-million mark and the death toll has gone past 570,000.

Given the scale this pandemic is assuming at fast pace, pharmaceutical companies and scientists are working overtime under pressure to come up with a vaccine as soon as possible. There currently are over 100 vaccines at various stages of development worldwide, including in India, Britain, China, the US, Russia and Israel. There are at least 21 vaccines currently under key trials, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

China's Sinovac Biotech, China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and AstraZeneca's experimental Covid-19 vaccine are in late-stage Phase III trials. Moderna, AstraZeneca, BioNTech, Novavax, Sinovac, CanSino Biologics and Inovio Pharmaceuticals are some players among those leading the race at present.

1. Coronavirus vaccine: Russia first nation to finish human trials

The clinical trials for the world's first coronavirus vaccine on volunteers at Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University has been successfully completed, Vadim Tarasov, the director of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Biotechnology, told Sputnik, adding that the first group of volunteers would be discharged on Wednesday and the second on July 20.

The university began clinical trials of the vaccine produced by Russia's Gamalei Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology on June 18.

"Sechenov University has successfully completed tests on volunteers of the world's first vaccine against coronavirus," Tarasov said.

2. China's CanSino in talks for Phase III vaccine trial overseas

Chinese vaccine developer CanSino Biologics is in talks with Russia, Brazil, Chile and Saudi Arabia to launch a Phase III trial of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine, its co-founder has said.

China's success in driving down Covid-19 infections has made it harder to conduct large-scale vaccine trials, and so far only a few countries have agreed to work with it.

"We are contacting Russia, Brazil, Chile and Saudi Arabia (for the Phase III trial), and it's still in discussion," Qiu Dongxu, executive director and co-founder of CanSino, told an anti-viral drug development conference in Suzhou, in eastern China.

He said its Phase III trial was likely to start "pretty soon," and the company plans to recruit 40,000 participants for the test.

Its Covid-19 candidate, Ad5-nCov, became the first in China to move into human testing in March but is running behind other potential vaccines in terms of trial progress. Two experimental vaccines developed by Sinovac Biotech and a unit of China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) are already approved for Phase III trials.

3. India okays limited use of Itolizumab for Covid-19 patients

India's drug regulator has approved Itolizumab, used to cure skin ailment psoriasis, for restricted emergency use on Covid-19 patients with moderate to severe acute respiratory distress.

4. No Covid vaccine before Q1 of 2021, India's parliamentary panel told

Notwithstanding the ambitious target set for its market launch, the Standing Committee on Science and Technology was told on Friday that India will have to wait till at least the first quarter of 2021 to get its vaccine that can treat Covid-19.

Officials cautioned that this is the earliest possible time frame when India can practically have its vaccine.

Interestingly, this development comes closely on the heels of India's foremost medical research body, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in a letter dated July 3, setting a target to get the covaxin vaccine ready by August 15. However, faced with criticism for putting unrealistic pressure, it later clarified saying it was "meant to cut unnecessary red tape, without bypassing any necessary process, and speed up recruitment of participants".

5. Lakshmi Mittal 'gifts' Oxford 3.5 mn pounds for vaccine development

Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal, and his family have gifted GBP 3.5 million to sponsor a critical professorship in vaccinology at the Oxford University which will facilitate vital research on outbreak pathogens including Covid-19.

6. Coronavirus treatment: Remdesivir reduces risk of deaths, but more studies needed

Gilead Sciences Inc said additional data from a late-stage study showed its antiviral remdesivir reduced the risk of death and significantly improved the conditions of severely ill Covid-19 patients.

The company, which had initially released the data from the trial in April, said the finding requires confirmation in clinical trials.

Remdesivir has been at the forefront of the battle against Covid-19 after the intravenously administered medicine helped shorten hospital recovery times in a clinical trial.

Several countries have approved the use of the treatment in severe patients but there are concerns over supply of the drug, which is also being tested as an inhaled version.

7. Tuberculosis vaccine may help reduce Covid-19 deaths: Study

A century-old tuberculosis vaccine may play a role in reducing death due to Covid-19 infection, a preliminary study has suggested.

In the study, published in online science journal 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America', the researchers found that some Latin American regions - including Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil and Mexico City in Mexico - had considerably lower death rates than states in the US such as New York, Illinois, Louisiana and Florida.

In Europe, Germany the death rate from Covid-19 was 2.9 times higher among people from the former West Germany than those in former East Germany. And the mortality rate was four times higher in Italy than in Finland.

According to the study, the places where death rates were lower varied in terms of age distribution, incomes, and health care access, but they all had one thing in common: a TB vaccination programme.

8. Coronavirus vaccine race: Novavax gets $1.6 billion in US funding

The US government has awarded Novavax Inc $1.6 billion to cover testing and manufacturing of a potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus in the United States, with the aim of delivering 100 million doses by January. Novavax is somewhat of a dark horse in the race for a coronavirus vaccine. The company was not on the list of vaccine finalists for Warp Speed previously reported by the New York Times that included Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer Inc, J&J and Merck & Co.

9. Britain nears 500 million pound deal for Sanofi/GSK Covid-19 vaccine

Britain is close to agreeing a 500 million pound ($624 million) supply deal with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline for 60 million doses of their potential Covid-19 vaccine, the Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper said that Britain was considering taking an option to buy the vaccine should it work in human trials, which are due to begin in September.

10: mRNA-1273 coronavirus vaccine by Moderna

The mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate, developed by US-based biotechnology company Moderna, has started Phase 2 clinical trials. The mRNA is a molecule that genetically encodes a set of instructions, based on which cells make proteins and send them to various parts of the body.

Medicines based on mRNA technology take advantage of normal biological processes of the body to create desired therapeutic effects.

Bill Gates warns 'deadlier pandemic' if vaccine goes to 'highest bidders'

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned about a deadlier pandemic if successful drugs or a COVID-19 vaccine, when developed, go first to the highest bidders and not reach the common people who need it the most.

"If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we'll have a longer, more unjust deadlier pandemic," he said. The fear is that once the vaccine is developed, the rich and the powerful people would grab it first.

[Source: Business Standard, New Delhi, 12Jul20]

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small logoThis document has been published on 16jul20 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.