The total number of coronavirus cases across the world has crossed the 10-million mark and the death toll has gone past 500,000. There currently are over 100 vaccines at various stages of development worldwide, including in India, Britain, China, the US, Russia and Israel.
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist at WHO, said nearly 2 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine would be ready by the end of next year. But who would be the first to get a Covid-19 vaccine? Probably people in the country where the first effective vaccine is developed. Thus, there’s pressure from governments on pharmaceutical companies and scientists to come up with a vaccine as soon as possible. Last week, WHO said UK-based AstraZeneca was leading the vaccine race while US-based pharmaceutical major Moderna was not far behind.
Several drugs, however, have shown encouraging results. While a definite treatment for coronavirus is nowhere in sight, drugs like dexamethasone and remdesivir are being used on critical patients. Scientists have also approved used of childhood vaccines like MMR to prevent severe lung inflammation associated with coronavirus.
Moderna, AstraZeneca, BioNTech, Novavax, Sinovac, CanSino Biologics and Inovio Pharmaceuticals are among those leading the fight against coornavirus.
Coronavirus treatment: Updates on coronavirus vaccine/drug development:
1. Covaxin, India’s first indigrnous vaccine for coronavirus
Bharat Biotech’s Covid vaccine candidate Covaxin is set to undergo human clinical trials in July. It was developed at the firm’s Genome Valley plant in Hyderabad, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech, said: “We are proud to announce Covaxin, India’s first indigenous vaccine for Covid-19.
2. CanSino’s coronavirus vaccine candidate approved for military use in China
China’s military has received the greenlight to use a Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by its research unit and CanSino Biologics after clinical trials proved it was safe and showed some efficacy, the company said on Monday.
The Ad5-nCoV is one of China’s eight vaccine candidates approved for human trials at home and abroad for the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus. The shot also won approval for human testing in Canada.
China’s Central Military Commission approved the use of the vaccine by the military on June 25 for a period of one year, CanSino said in a filing. The vaccine candidate was developed jointly by CanSino and a research institute at the Academy of Military Science (AMS).
3. Never said coronil can cure coronavirus, says Patanjali CEO
Yoga teacher Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved never claimed it can cure Covid-19 with its medicines, Coronil and Swasari, the firm’s Chief Executive Officer Acharya Balkrishna said on Tuesday, adding it just shared the favourable outcome of clinical trials on patients. The Centre had barred the firm from advertising the products after Ramdev, in a sensational claim last week, said they cured 280 patients within days in trials.
“We never said the medicine (coronil) can cure or control corona, we said that we had made medicines and used them in clinical controlled trial which cured corona patients. There is no confusion in it,” Acharya Balkrishna, CEO Patanjali said.
India has included Gilead’s remdesivir in its clinical protocol to treat Covid-19 patients and also advised the use of dexamethasone as an alternative to another steroid being used for managing moderate to severe cases.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) said the change had been made after considering the latest available evidence and expert consultation.
Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid drug used in a wide range of conditions for its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects. It has been tested on hospitalised patients with Covid-19 in the Oxford University’s Recovery clinical trial and was found to have benefits for critically ill patients.
5. Common childhood vaccine might prevent severe complications of Covid-19, scientists say
Vaccines such as those used against measles may prevent severe lung inflammation associated with Covid-19, according to a study which may lead to a new strategy to protect the vulnerable from the pandemic.
The research, published in the journal mBio, suggested that live attenuated vaccines which contain weakened pathogens can activate immune cells to train the white blood cells of the immune system to mount a more effective defense against unrelated infections.
According to the scientists, a live attenuated MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine concept is not suggested to be directed against Covid-19, but may act as an immune preventive measure against the severe symptoms of Covid-19.
6. Moderna picks drugmaker Catalent to manufacture potential coronavirus vaccine
Moderna Inc is partnering with contract drugmaker Catalent Inc for filling and packaging millions of doses of its experimental coronavirus vaccine to be supplied in the United States.
The vaccine, among the first to be tested in humans in the United States, was found to produce protective antibodies in a small group of healthy volunteers.
Under the deal, Catalent will provide manufacturing services for an initial 100 million doses starting in the third quarter at its facility in Bloomington, Indiana.
It will also provide other packaging and labeling, storage and distribution services at its facilities
7. Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine status
The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc.’s experimental vaccine is the first to enter the final stages of clinical trials to assess how well it works in protecting people from becoming infected by the virus that causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), which has infected 9.4 million and killed 480,000 globally since late December.
The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, which has been licenced to AstraZeneca, will be given to 10,260 adults and children in the next stage in the UK.
8. Coronavirus treatment: Covid-19 drug remdesivir
a. Glenmark drug favipiravir hits market, priced at Rs 103 a pill
Oral antiviral drug favipiravir, which is used to treat patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 infection, will now be available in the Indian market under the brand name FabiFlu at Rs 103 per tablet. Glenmark Pharmaceuticals secured the drug regulator’s nod on Friday to manufacture and market the drug in India.
The drug has shown promise in multiple global studies, with reduction in viral load, faster fever resolution, and faster clinical recovery.
In India, the drug will be sold at retail chemist outlets as well as hospitals.
b. Hetero to launch Covid drug Remdesivir under brand name Covifor in India
Hyderabad-based Hetero Labs on Sunday said it had received regulatory approval to manufacture and market antiviral drug remdesivir for treating coronavirus patients.
Hetero’s generic version of remdesivir will be marketed under the brand name ‘Covifor’ in India, said the company after getting approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
c. Cipla launches generic remdesivir under brand name Cipremi
Cipla Ltd announced the launch of its generic version of remdesivir, which has been authorised for emergency use in treatment of Covid-19 patients by the USFDA, under its brand name Cipremi.
9. Polio vaccine for Covid-19 testable’, say scientists
Indian scientists have responded cautiously to a suggestion by global researchers that the oral polio vaccine be tested for Covid-19, saying it is a testable idea based on a sound scientific concept but may offer only limited protection against the infection.
With a vaccine for Covid-19 at least a year away, scientists say repurposing already safe and effective vaccines is the way to go for immediate relief against Covid-19. The repurposed vaccines could includethe oral polio vaccine (OPV) and the Bacillus CalmetteGuerin (BCG)used against tuberculosis, both part of the immunisation given to Indian children.
It is worth conducting a clinical trial, said Ram Vishwakarma, director of the CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIIM) in Jammu.
10. Russia starts clinical trials of coronavirus vaccine
Clinical trials of a Russian coronavirus vaccine have started Wednesday, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
Two forms of the vaccine developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya research institute liquid and powder for injections will be tested on two groups of volunteers, 38 people each, the statement said. The participants will be isolated in two Moscow hospitals.
The Gamaleya institute made headlines last month when its director, professor Alexander Gintsburg, made a statement that he and other researchers had tried the vaccine on themselves before the start of human studies.