As the world races to develop vaccines for Novel Coronavirus, the UK and Germany are set to begin human trials of different vaccines for the Chinese virus. As per reports, out of around 150 projects across the world for Coronavirus vaccine, the UK and Germany projects are among the first to be approved for clinical trials on humans.
On Thursday, volunteers at a trial conducted in Oxford University will be given the first dose of a potential vaccine developed by the university that is based on a virus found in chimpanzees. The trial, run by the university’s Jenner Institute and the Oxford Vaccine group, will involve 510 volunteers aged between 18 and 55 in the first phase. Apart from being funded by the university, the project will also receive a funding of £20 million from the British government.
Even though the human trials are yet to begin, plans for mass production of the vaccine have already started, so that it is immediately available after it proves effecting in the trial. But if the vaccine is found useless in the trial, the products will go waste. The Oxford trial will be a part of a nationwide effort in the UK which has been spearheaded by Government task force.
The UK government will invest 20 million pounds (24 million dollars) to the university’s team for research and other 22.5 million pounds for Imperial college which is also developing a vaccine. The University had previously said that the aim is to produce a million doses of vaccine by September.
Secretary of state for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock praised both the teams for making the “rapid progress” and said the UK will throw “everything we’ve got at developing a vaccine.
Matt Hancock said, “We are going to back them to the hilt and give them every resource that they need to get the best possible chance of success as soon as possible. The upside of being the first country in the world to develop a successful vaccine is so huge that I am throwing everything at it.”
The experimental product develped by the team at Oxford University is called “ChAdOx1 nCoV-19”, which is a type of immunisation known as a recombinant viral vector vaccine.
Human trials in Germany
Meanwhile, the German regulatory body PEI green-lighted the country’s first trial on human volunteers for a vaccine developed by German firm Biontech and US giant Pfizer on Wednesday.
As per reports, the first phase will see 200 volunteers vaccinated with the variants of the vaccine while the second phase will include volunteers in the high-risk group. Research director Professor Sarah Gilbert stated that the trail has a 80 percent chance of being successful.
BioNTech said it was developing the potential vaccine, named BNT162, together with US based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. Human trials for BNT162 will also be conducted in US, after regulatory approvals are obtained.
The German regulatory body PEI noted it as a significant step in making a vaccine available at the earliest. They said that testing would be completed by June, at the earliest. After this stage is complete, the PEI will determine if the vaccine can progress to further trial stages.
China races ahead with thee potential vaccines
China, the origin of the Novel Coronavirus, has developed several different vaccine candidates, and has already moved to the second phase of trial for some of them. Chinese biotech company CanSino and its collaborators at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences’ Institute of Biotechnology are planning to move forward to the second phase of trial of their adenovirus type-5 vector-based recombinant COVID-19 vaccine, Ad5-nCoV. The first phase had commenced in March.
Human trials have been approved for another vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech andthe Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, an affiliate of state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group.
A team at the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control in Beijing has developed another vaccine candidate based on a strain of a Wuhan Coronavirus extracted from a patient in Zhejiang. The preclinical trials done on non-human primates have shown that when given at a sufficient dose, it could provide “complete protection against Sars-CoV-2”, the virus that causes the COVID-19.
Other Trials approved
Several other potential vaccines against coronavirus are under development in various countries, and
US drug developer Moderna started human tests for their vaccine last month, and now the volunteers are given the second shot of the drug. The vaccine, called mRNA-1273, was developed by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in collaboration with Moderna.
Human clinical trial has also begun for another candidate developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals along with the University of Pennsylvania’s research facility and the Wistar Institute in the USA. The group has been working on the vaccine since January, and the work was fast-tracked after the Chinese government made the genome sequencing of COVID-19 public. Approximately 40 people will be tested during the initial phase of the testing of the vaccine.
The coronavirus pandemic has infected 2.66 million people across the world and has claimed the lives of more than 185,000 people. At present, there is no vaccine or known cure for the disease, although various drugs have been used by doctors with some success.