Tuesday 19 January 2021
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AstraZeneca appears leading the vaccine race amid claims from multiple labs

AstraZeneca signed contracts with France, Germany, Italy and Holland to supply the EU with up to 400 million doses of the potential vaccine

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Biology Health AstraZeneca appears leading the vaccine race amid claims from multiple labs

The potential coronavirus vaccine from British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca is likely to provide protection against contracting the disease (COVID) for about a year, the company’s CEO Pascal Soriot told a Belgian radio station today. The company has begun human trials of the vaccine that the University of Oxford has developed.

The Phase I trial of the vaccine in Britain will end soon. Phase III trial has already begun, Soriot told broadcaster Bel RTL. “We think that it will protect for about a year,” Soriot said.

AstraZeneca had said on 13 June that it had signed contracts with France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands to supply the European Union with up to 400 million doses of the potential vaccine. The firm has also entered deals with the UK and the US. “If all goes well, we will have the results of the clinical trials in August/September. We are manufacturing in parallel. We will be ready to deliver from October if all goes well,” Soriot said.

Meanwhile, the University of Illinois at Chicago has said it will begin testing a potential vaccine for COVID-19 in July. It is expecting to enrol at least 1,000 local participants in the clinical trial. Biotech company Moderna has developed the vaccine. It is conducting the trial in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

The Phase 3 clinical trial will include 30,000 participants spread across 90 sites in the US, Dr Richard Novak, lead investigator of the clinical trial at the university, said.

Phase 3 is the final phase of testing before a vaccine gains approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The trial, expected to begin at the UIC on 9 July, is scheduled to last two years. However, the FDA could approve the vaccine sooner if it is clearly effective, Novak said.

Elsewhere, while China National Biotec Group (CNBG) said today that its experimental coronavirus vaccine has triggered antibodies in clinical trials and that the company was planning late-stage human trials in foreign countries, the country‘s antecedents of suppressing data, the virus’s strains, alleged nexus with the WHO and the worst allegation that it created the biological agent to devastate the world on purpose threaten to affect its market badly.

Developers of vaccines for COVID have so far not been able to prove beyond doubt their products can effectively protect people from the virus that has killed more than 4,00,000 people. This, even though multiple candidates are in various stages of development globally.

Amid this uncertainty, claims about the Chinese vaccine, which a Wuhan-based research institute affiliated to CNBG’s parent company Sinopharm has developed, fails to inspire public confidence — more so because of its origin. Releasing preliminary data from a clinical trial initiated in April involving 1,120 healthy participants aged between 18 and 59, Sinopharm is but claiming that the vaccine has induced high-level antibodies in all inoculated people without serious side effects.

Back in the US, when President Donald Trump announced Operation Warp Speed in mid-May, the American administration defined it as a national objective to finish developing, manufacturing and distributing a proven coronavirus vaccine “as fast as possible”. At a facility of Emergent BioSolutions in Baltimore, the scientists are conducting a part of the operation now.

One of 10 similar facilities throughout the US, Baltimore appears ahead in productivity, as this facility is specifically meant to create and manufacture vaccines.

Emergent announced this week it had partnered with the biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to make that company’s coronavirus vaccine.

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