The global COVID-19 count stands at 9,129,146 with 473,797 deaths being recorded already as on June 24. And the figures are only shooting northwards with the spike continuing unabated in India as well with 16,922 new cases being recorded in the last 24 hours alone.
As the world grapples with the pandemic, all eyes are fixed on developments on the vaccine front. And this is where there is some cheer. Oxford University and AstraZeneca’s experimental vaccine has now become the first to enter final stages of clinical trials.
As a part of the trials, the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine is being be administered to 10,260 adults and children in the UK. The Duke of Cambridge has also met volunteers for clinical trials at the Churchill Hospital.
Trials are also being conducted in South Africa and Brazil. Pune-based Serum Institute of India is pumping in $100 million to mass-produce one billion doses for India and other low-and-middle-income countries.
Made from the ChAdOx1 virus – a comparatively weakened version of a common cold virus which causes infections in chimpanzees – the vaccine has undergone genetic alteration to ensure it doesn’t infect human beings. 24-year-old Mhlongo, a resident from Soweto, has become the first South African to be injected with the Oxford’s vaccine.
Head of Oxford’s Vaccine Group Prof Andrew Pollard issued a statement on the trials. “Clinical studies are progressing very well and we are now initiating studies to evaluate how well the vaccine induces immune responses in older adults, and to test whether it can provide protection in the wider population,” he said in the statement.
If the trials yield the desired results, the vaccine could be launched by the end of this year.
As per World Health Organisation’s draft landscape on COVID-19 vaccines, as on June 24, there are 16 experimental vaccines under clinical trials and at least 125 vaccines in the preclinical evaluation stage.
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Vaccines from US-based Moderna Inc and China’s Sinovac Biotech are also expected to enter the final stage of trials in July. China National Biotec Group Co. based in Beijing has meanwhile received regulatory approval for conducting Phase 3 vaccine trials in UAE.
There is frenetic activity on the home front as well with regards to vaccine development. Four vaccine candidates are partnering to develop the vaccine are in preclinical trial stages with five companies in the fray including New Delhi-based Panacea Biotec is partnership with US-based Refana Inc, Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, besides Serum Institute of India which has entered into three partnerships with Oxford-AstraZeneca, US-biotech firm Codagenix and Austria’s Themis Bioscience. Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila and Hyderabad-based India Immunologicals have also formed partnerships for vaccine development.