Finding COVID-19 cure: A summary of vaccine developments in July

July 17, 2020 - 2:09 PM
1909
Scientist in a laboratory
A scientist conducts research on a vaccine for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the laboratories of RNA medicines company Arcturus Therapeutics in San Diego, California, U.S., March 17, 2020. (Reuters/Bing Guan)

The World Health Organization recently announced that over 150 countries expressed intent to join a facility to help make the COVID-19 vaccine be accessible globally.

In a statement on July 15, the WHO said that these countries joined the COVAX facility or “a mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.”

Seventy countries that can afford to finance these vaccines are expected to partner with over 90 lower-income states and support them through voluntary donations via Gavi’s COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

Meanwhile, the WHO’s latest draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines indicates that 23 are currently in clinical evaluation, meanwhile, 140 more are still in the pre-clinical stage.

Last April, when most parts of the countries are still under the enhanced community quarantine and the confirmed cases were still relatively low, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that there’s an antibody cure for the deadly virus which causes COVID-19.

“Meron ng medisina, antibody ang isang giant pharmaceuticals. Tapos naghahabulan sila. Sabi by May baka they would start to market it, ipabili na nila,” Duterte said during his April 13 national address.

He even said that he would only lift the lockdown in Luzon if this cure from a pharmaceutical company he did not name would become commercially available by May.

“Kung meron na ‘yan tapos makita ko na ginagamit na ng tao, ili-lift ko. Tutal kung magkasakit kayo may antibodies naman tayo mabili. Ngayon, kung wala kang mabili, problema mo na ‘yan,” he said.

In the same month, Duterte also promised that he will grant P10 million as a reward to any Filipino who will discover a vaccine for COVID-19.

The Palace also said that time that the president will give a grant to the laboratories of the University of the Philippines and the Philippine General Hospital to help them develop the much-needed vaccine.

The ECQ, the strictest quarantine protocols, was extended thrice  in Luzon and other high-risk areas until May 15. This quarantine phase was only relaxed on June 1.

No vaccine was made available yet.

List of vaccine developments this July

Of the more than a hundred vaccines being developed globally, here are the recent developments this month from the following research institutes and healthcare firms:

Moderna Inc.

The New York Times said Moderna Inc. is the first American company to put its experimental vaccine to human trials.

Results from its Phase 1 trials showed volunteers who got two doses of the vaccine having high levels of virus-killing antibodies that exceeded the ones from people who had recovered from COVID-19.

Gamaleya Institute

On July 15, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow, Russia successfully developed a “safe” vaccine following positive results from a group of volunteers.

The second group of participants who were vaccinated on June 23 are still in the hospital and being monitored.

BioNTech, Pfizer and Fosum Pharma

These three big pharmaceutical companies collaborated to develop their mRNA vaccine.

The group announced last July 1 that the volunteers for their phase 1 and 2 trials produced antibodies against the virus with minimal side effects.

Zydus Cadila

On Twitter on July 3, Indian company Zydus Cadila announced that they have received approval to soon start human trials for their vaccine.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University 
A report of Reuters said that early-stage human trial data on a vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University will be published on July 20, according to Lancet medical journal.
“The vaccine candidate is already in large-scale Phase III human trials to assess whether it can protect against COVID-19, but its developers have yet to report Phase I results which would show whether it is safe and whether or not it induces an immune response,” the report read.
Cansino Biologics
Aside from these, the Reuters also reported that China’s military “was cleared to use vaccine candidate developed by its research unit and CanSino Biologics after clinical trials proved it was safe and showed some efficacy.”
Inovio

U.S. company Inovio Pharmaceuticals, on the other hand, reportedly announced that “its experimental COVID-19 vaccine induced immune responses in healthy volunteers and was shown to be safe in an early-stage trial.”

Medicago

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Medicago has begun testing its plant-based COVID-19 vaccine in an early-stage clinical trial.

The Canadian company, backed by tobacco company Phillip Morris, is racing against larger drugmakers to develop a treatment option to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Medicago said it dosed the first healthy volunteers on Monday in a 180-person study, making it the first vaccine from Canada among the more than 20 experimental coronavirus vaccines being tested in humans,” the Reuters report read. 

Medicago vaccine, being tested with adjuvants, or vaccine boosters, from GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s largest vaccine-maker, and Dynavax Technologies Corp, may be first released in North America. —With reports from Reuters