The whole world is waiting for a COVID vaccine to come. The pandemic has had huge toll on life as well as economic activities rendering millions of people jobless across the globe including the developed countries. The wait does not seem to end soon because the scientists point out that it takes at least 18 months to have some insight how a vaccine works and another 1-2 years to understand and control the side effects based on data collected through different stages of trial. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 40 vaccine candidates now in some stage of clinical trials, and 10 of them are in the phase three trials. These late stage trials clinical trials will tell about both the efficacy and the safety. And the institution believes that the best guess or prediction about submitting the collected data during the 1-3 stages seems possible earliest from December of 2020 ot may go into into the early part of 2021. Countries have been developing dozens of vaccines since the start of the outbreak earlier this year, but none have passed the WHO-approved phase 3 trials so far. Many vaccines are expected to be registered with the WHO by the end of the year. Billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has said that normalcy will come only when second generation of Covid-19 vaccine will be rolled out. The World Health Organisation (WHO), meanwhile, believes that a Covid-19 vaccine will be ready for registration by the end of 2020 or early next year at the earliest.
Number of COVID Vaccines under trial
According to Vaccine tracker of the New York Times, there are confirmed 92 preclinical vaccines in active development. China and Russia have approved vaccines without waiting for the results of Phase 3 trials. Experts say the rushed process has serious risks. Regulators in each country review the trial results and decide whether to approve the vaccine or not. During a pandemic, a vaccine may receive emergency use authorization before getting formal approval. Once a vaccine is licensed, researchers continue to monitor people who receive it to make sure it’s safe and effective.
Regional Spread of COVID
To date, more than 37 million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide, with over 1.07 million fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University. According to Worldometer, 214 countries and territories around the world have reported a total of 38,206,740 confirmed cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 that originated from Wuhan, China, and a death toll of 1,087,598 deaths. The top 12 countries which have seen the highest number of Coronavirus infections are tabulated below:
|United States||8,049,854||220,281||North America|
Some Vaccines against CoVID-19 under development
Remdesivir: The antiviral drug given by infusion previously failed as an Ebola treatment but showed promise against certain coronaviruses in animal studies. In a randomised trial, remdesivir led to significant reduction in recovery time of hospitalised patients compared with a placebo, demonstrating that it does impact Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. More than a dozen trials are underway in China, Europe and the United States with positive results starting to emerge.
Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ): The HCQ is widely used for treating malaria, but it has now been found to have anti-viral as well as anti-inflammatory activity. During trials, the HCQ successfully blocked the novel coronavirus’ entry into cells. Subsequent studies have found little benefit in patients treated with the drug. Health experts caution that HCQ should never be used without a prescription and could lead to dangerous side effects. Dozens of clinical trials to assess benefits of the drug to Covid-19 patients are ongoing, but several major trials were halted following a safety warning by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in May.
Aspirin, Clopidogrel (Plavix), Rivaroxaban (Xarelto), Atorvastatin (Lipitor), Omeprazole (Prilosec): These have been put under trial in the United Kingdom. The drugs try to mitigate the effect of Covid-19 on heart muscles. These cardioprotective drugs will be tried on 3,000 patients in the UK, with a completion date of March 30, 2021.
BCG tuberculosis vaccine: Bacillus Calmette-Guerin tuberculosis vaccine induces a broad innate immune-system response, which has been shown to protect against infection or severe illness with other respiratory pathogens. Large trials of the drug were conducted in Australia and the Netherlands to understand its efficacy in fighting the vius that causes Covid-19. In a small trial in the United Arab Emirates, none of the 71 hospital staff who received a BCG booster shot in early March had been infected with the virus by late June, compared with 18 of 201 staff who did not receive the vaccine and tested Covid-19 positive.
Convalescent plasma: This is a method which is being considered by health experts to treat Covid-19. Blood plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients is transfused into patients who are currently ill, in the hope that freshly-made antibodies will help fight the virus. The method has been used for more than 100 years and carries little risk of harm or side effects. In Delhi, the government led by Arvind Kejriwal has opened centres where plasma is donated. Kejriwal has also urged people of Delhi to come out in large numbers to donate the plasma which can then be used to treat patients suffering from Covid-19.
NKG2D-ACE2 CAR-NK cells: The non-drug therapy pairs NKG2D receptor for the immune system’s natural killer (NK) cells that play a major role attacking foreign invaders like cancer or viruses, with the ACE-2 receptor that the coronavirus uses to enter human cells. The therapy is being tested by Chinese firm Chongqing Sidemu Biotechnology Technology Co Ltd. More than 90 patients are undergoing tests to know whether this cell therapy can prevent the Sars-CoV-2 virus from entering cells and multiplying.
Covaxin: Covaxin the vaccine candidate developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is in Phase 2 clinical trial in the country. And now the makers have sought approval from drug regulators to start the third phase clinical trial. As per reports, the Drugs Controller General of India (DGCI) has asked Bharat Biotech to submit “complete safety and immunogenicity data of the phase II trial” and some clarifications before proceeding for the next stage. Covaxin falls under the category of inactivated vaccines. For the unversed, this means that the virus pathogen is ‘deactivated’ to disable it from causing infection, however, some parts of the virus can be identified by the immune system, leading to an immune reaction.
Bharat Biotech took a strain of isolated coronavirus from the National Institute of Virology, Pune to develop the inactivated vaccine at its Hyderabad facility, Genome Valley. The previous week, the firm shared that Covaxin will make use of ViroVax’s adjuvant Alhydroxiquim-II to boost immune response in the body and provide longer lasting immunity.