Plant-derived drug under testing, cancer drug shows promise: Covid-19 vaccine update

Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp said its research on Avigan as a potential treatment for Covid-19 may drag on until July.
Image for representation: Small bottles labelled with a ‘Vaccine COVID-19’ sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration.(REUTERS)
Image for representation: Small bottles labelled with a ‘Vaccine COVID-19’ sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration.(REUTERS)
Updated on Jun 07, 2020 04:18 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Sparshita Saxena

The need to develop a vaccine against Covid-19 is getting more urgent by the day as coronavirus cases across the globe head towards another grim milestone. With 7 million people infected worldwide and 4 lakh people dead, experts and scientists are ramping up effort to develop a potential Covid-19 vaccine.  

While experts at the University of Oxford, in collaboration with British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, have pushed their drug contender to the clinical trial phase, another popular candidate, remdesivir, is also seen as one of the top contenders after countries like the US and India approved its emergency usage in treating Covid-19 patients. 

Also read: India’s Covid-19 tally reaches 246,628, death toll at 6,929

Ten vaccines against Covid-19 are in the clinical trials phase. Researchers at the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca hope to have the first phase 3 data in hand this summer.

As per a Lancet report, “the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca have embraced a recombinant vaccine called AZD1222 to achieve a similar effect, engineering a chimpanzee adenovirus to carry DNA for the spike antigen,” the report read.

Here are the latest developments around Covid-19 vaccine: 

• AstraZeneca Plc has approached rival drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc about a potential merger, news agency Reuters reported citing Bloomberg News. Both companies are leading the drug industry’s efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic. AstraZeneca’s cancer drug has also shown promising results in the fight against Covid-19

• Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir is the first drug to lead to improvement in Covid-19 patients in formal clinical trials. 

• Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings Corp said its research on Avigan as a potential treatment for Covid-19 may drag on until July.

Also read: India now fifth worst-affected by Covid-19, surpasses Spain

• On June 4, AstraZeneca said it had doubled manufacturing capacity for its potential coronavirus vaccine to 2 billion doses in two deals involving Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates that guarantee early supply to lower-income countries. 

• AstraZeneca has also entered into an agreement with the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) to produce the vaccine currently under trial at the University of Oxford on a mass scale, if successful.

• Indian drugmaker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd said on Friday it was testing a plant-derived drug, AQCH, for the potential treatment of Covid-19 as part of a mid-stage trial, with results expected by October.

• Moderna’s mRNA-1273 is another contender in the race. It entered into clinical trials just 66 days after SARS-CoV-2 was first sequenced. 

In India, the Covid-19 tally touched 246,628. While 119,292 patients have recovered from the deadly contagion in the country, 6,929 people have died. 

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Sunday, November 28, 2021