COVID-19 vaccine: What are the latest updates?
With more than 5.3 lakh deaths and 1.14 crore infections, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow worse around the world. The hunt for a preventive vaccine is still on, but there have been some significant developments in different countries, starting with India where 2 shots have been cleared for human trials. Let's look at all the updates.
While several Indian groups are working on a candidate vaccine, two have been cleared for human trials - one jointly developed by Bharat Biotech and ICMR and the other from Zydus Cadila. Both shots will soon go into trials, but ICMR has said it is moving its candidate through fast-tracked testing and targets to make the shot available for public use by August 15.
Separately, Oxford and AstraZeneca's candidate vaccine has also shown promise in human trials. Sarah Gilbert, the lead researcher involved in the project, recently said that the shot should be able to provide a good amount of immunity to healthy individuals. It is currently being tested on over 8,000 volunteers in the UK as well as in Brazil and South Africa.
Like Oxford, the candidate from BioNTech and Pfizer, developed using the mRNA technology, is also moving in the right direction. According to the results of Phase-I human trials, it managed to generate sufficient neutralizing antibodies in the patients without any major side-effects. The details of the study have been submitted to the medRxiv journal and will soon be published.
In another development, Johnson & Johnson made headlines by initiating the Phase-I human trial of its own COVID-19 candidate. The company is also moving to accelerate the testing of the shot as well as to ramp up its production so that sufficient doses of the vaccine, which uses a killed strain of the novel coronavirus, are available once it is proven effective.
In Thailand, an experimental shot developed by Chulalongkorn University's Center of Excellence in Vaccine Research and Development has shown promise in pre-clinical trials. The candidate was tested on animals and has been able to generate an immune response without any side-effects. It is expected to go into the human trial phase by October of this year.
According to WHO, 18 experimental vaccines are currently moving through human trials, although the list is yet to include candidates from J&J, Bharat Biotech, and Zydus Cadila. And while most of the candidates are from China, those closest to launch are shots from AstraZeneca and Moderna Therapeutics. AstraZeneca has also partnered with the Serum Institute of India to manufacture a billion doses.