Race against time to develop vaccine for COVID-19

NEW DELHI/NEW YORK, MAR 6 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 3/6/2020 11:47:13 AM IST

With Covid-19 covering a vast expanse, research institutes — from the US, UK, India and Australia — seem to be making quiet progress on probable vaccine candidates. Researchers have shared 115 genome sequences to understand how the virus works, on the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data website.

The pre-clinical model may be ready by April as animal studies are critical for vaccine candidates to progress to phase 2 human clinical studies. 

Pune-based Serum Institute of India has announced its vaccine candidate, being developed with US-based Codagenix, will be market-ready by early 2022, while Jenner Institute at University of Oxford is working with Italian manufacturer Advent Srl to produce 1,000 doses of its vaccines for the first clinical trials.

Serum Institute of India, which is world’s largest vaccine producer by number of doses produced, and is headquartered in Pune, has stated that the vaccine for COVID-19 will not be ready before 2022.

Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of Serum Institute of India, spoke to CNN-News18 on the availability of vaccine to fight the COVID-19 which has engulfed the globe. 

Meanwhile, researchers in Seattle, US have begun recruiting healthy volunteers to participate in a clinical trial for an experimental COVID-19 vaccine, according to news reports.

The vaccine, developed by the biotechnology company Moderna Therapeutics, was initially sent to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Maryland on February 24, according to The Wall Street Journal. The agency anticipates launching a clinical trial by the end of April and will sponsor the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute to conduct the testing, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told The Wall Street Journal.  

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has been working with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on preclinical models. CEPI, which receives funding from India’s department of biotechnology, aims to develop preclinical models for evaluating vaccine candidates from four CEPIfunded consortia: CureVac in Germany, Inovio and Moderna in the US and the University of Queensland, Australia.

Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc has shipped vials of its vaccine to US National Institutes of Health for studies on healthy volunteers. Pennsylvania-headquartered Inovio Pharmaceuticals is collaborating with Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Company to advance the development of its vaccine.

Trevor Drew, director of the CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory, hoped to “have something ready for vaccine producers” by March or April. India-born SS Vasan, who leads the CEPI project at CSIRO, said, “We’ve grown the virus for our research and reconfirmed the genomic sequence published by Doherty Institute. We have got promising results with our initial susceptibility studies...,” he added.



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