Covid-19 vaccine update: Bharat Biotech to launch candidate in Q2 2021, Israel starts human trials
The number of cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is nearing the 50 million mark across the world and the death toll has risen to more than 1.2 million, according to a worldometers tally, even as the global hunt to find a vaccine against the infection continues. Vaccine candidates of several companies are at various stages of trials meaning that it might take some more time before the world eventually gets its first shot against Covid-19.
The pandemic, meanwhile, continues to surge across Europe, after a brief lull in cases. Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom has announced a new four-week lockdown in England, which will come into effect from Thursday. Also, the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Sunday he had been identified as a contact of someone who tested positive for Covid-19.
1. India’s Bharat Biotech International Limited on Sunday said it is planning to launch its vaccine candidate in the second quarter of 2021, after getting approval from regulatory authorities. The Hyderabad-based company said it plans to conduct recruitment and dosage for the third phase of its vaccine trials in November. Sai Prasad, Bharat Biotech’s executive director, said the trial will take place in 25 sites across 10-12 states in the country. During the trials, two doses each for the vaccine and placebo recipients will be provided.
2. A global study has said India has used its manufacturing capabilities to pre-order 600 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and is negotiating for another billion. The doses, says the study, are enough to vaccinate at least half the population. Only the United States, which has the highest number of cases, has pre-ordered more doses--810 million-- than the second worst-hit India. Most experimental Covid-19 vaccines require two doses.
3. Israel has started human trials for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, with 80 volunteers participating in the initial phase. The number of volunteers will be expanded to 960 by December. If the first two phases are successful, a third phase will be launched in April/May 2021 with 30,000 volunteers. If these trials are successful, the vaccine will be ready for the general public by the end of next summer.
(4.) 4. AstraZeneca Inc, which is among the companies testing a vaccine candidate, has said Britain’s health regulator has started an ‘accelerated’ review of its potential vaccine. AstraZeneca is working on the vaccine along with the University of Oxford and their vaccine candidate is called ‘AZD1222’ or ‘ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.’ In an ‘accelerated’ review, also called a ‘rolling’ review, regulators can view clinical data in real-time and talk to drug makers on the manufacturing process and trials to accelerate the approval process.