From Moderna to Regeneron: Where do Covid-19 vaccine trials stand

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Researchers and scientists are racing to develop treatment and vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), which has affected more than 7 million people and killed over 420,000 across the world.

More than 150 groups all over the world are developing various vaccines for Covid-19 and at least 10 of them have entered the clinical trial phase.

Here’s the latest on how the companies have fared:

Moderna

Moderna Inc on Thursday confirmed it plans to start a trial of 30,000 volunteers of its much-anticipated coronavirus vaccine in July as the company enters the final stage of testing.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech said the primary goal of the study would be to prevent symptomatic Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The key secondary goal would be the prevention of severe disease, as defined by keeping people out of the hospital.

China National Biotec Group Co

China is offering employees of some large state-run companies the option of being inoculated with two coronavirus vaccines currently in development, showing how quickly the country is moving to test the viability of its homegrown shots.

Employees intending to travel overseas for work can volunteer to be administered vaccinations developed by China National Biotec Group Co or CNBG, a subsidiary of Beijing-based Sinopharm Group Co, Bloomberg has reported.

Bloomberg said the proposal was relayed to state-owned companies by the government body that oversees them.

CNBG is among the Chinese companies bidding to create a successful vaccine against the new coronavirus.

There are currently five Chinese vaccine candidates in the human trial stage, competing with products being developed by global pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca Plc and Moderna that can bring an end to the pandemic.

Emergent BioSolutions

Emergent BioSolutions has said it has signed an $87 million deal to make AstraZeneca Plc’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine in the United States, boosting the British drugmaker’s efforts to bring a vaccine to the market.

Emergent said, under the agreement, large-scale manufacturing of the vaccine will be done at its Baltimore Bayview facility, which has the capacity to produce up to hundreds of millions of doses annually.

AstraZeneca has said that the first indication of the effectiveness of its vaccine would likely be available in June or July. However, experts have cautioned that a safe and effective vaccine could take at least 12 to 18 months from the start of development.

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson said it had fast-tracked the start of human clinical trials for its recombinant Ad26.COV2-S vaccine by two months to the second half of July, which was initially planned for September.

The decision may allow the American firm to take part in the massive clinical trials program or Operation Warp Speed planned by the US government.

The vaccine candidate developed by J&J is based on adenovirus, a virus which causes the common cold, and it plans to test its efficacy and safety against a placebo by giving the doses to both younger and older volunteers.

The company is also in talks with the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to start larger, late-stage trials ahead of schedule, depending on results of the early studies and regulatory approval.

Eli Lilly

The drug giant has said that its antibody-drug to treat Covid-19 patients can be available as early as September. It is testing three antibodies therapies to cure Covid-19, one of which is slated to enter clinical trials in the coming weeks, while human trials have already been conducted on the other two therapies.

The drug company’s chief scientific officer Daniel Skovronsky said in an interview with Reuters that they could have a possible treatment for the virus available if all goes well with the two antibody therapies it is testing.

Skovronsky said the company is also doing preclinical studies of third antibody treatment for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus that could enter human clinical trials in the coming weeks.

It has reportedly already launched human trials with two of the experimental therapies.

One of them, currently designated as LY-CoV555, is being developed in partnership with Canadian biotech AbCellera. The other, JS016, is being developed with Chinese drugmaker Shanghai Junshi Biosciences.

Sinovac

China’s Sinovac Biotech has turned to Brazil, the epicentre of Latin America’s outbreak, for at least part of its final testing. The government of São Paulo announced Thursday that Sinovac will ship enough of its experimental vaccine to test in 9,000 Brazilians starting next month.

São Paulo’s governor Joao Doria has said if it works, “with this vaccine we will be able to immunize millions of Brazilians”.

Indian companies

The Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) has partnered with University of Oxford to ramp up trials and vaccine development.

SII plans to start production of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by the Oxford University in the next two to three weeks and plans to bring the vaccination for the general public by the end of October if the vaccine candidate gets approved.

It has said that it is investing $100 million on the Oxford vaccine. The company along with pharma company AstraZeneca has said that the AZD1222 vaccine would be supplied to India as well as other low-income countries.

Panacea Biotec Ltd has said it would partner with US-based Refana Inc to make a potential Covid-19 vaccine. The firms aim to make more than 500 million doses of the vaccine candidate and around 40 million doses are expected to be ready by early next year, Panacea told the stock exchanges.

(With agency inputs)

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