COVID-19 vaccine: What’s the latest on this front?

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected more than 5 million people all across the globe, and taken the lives of many, has eluded doctors and scientists in more ways than one. One such area, where researchers are yet to achieve success in, is their race against time to find a vaccine against this deadly infection. Currently, more than 100 vaccines are in different stages of development. However, none of these has proved to be effective yet, despite showing promising early signs in safety trials and animal studies. It takes 12-18 months for a vaccine to be approved available as it has to go through several stages of safety and efficacy tests. The sequence that is followed for vaccine development includes these: Pre-clinical animal studies and Phase 1/2/3/4 human trials). However, if there is urgency, as in the case of COVID-19, some stages are being skipped altogether. For example, Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials are omitted or Phase 1 human trials are starting before information about animal safety is in. Let’s take a look at the latest updates on COVID-19 vaccine front. Also Read – Kangra Tea and other Ayurvedic herbs claimed to have properties to block COVID-19

4 COVID-19 vaccines will enter clinical trial in India soon

India is working on 14 COVID-19 vaccines currently. Out of them, 4 are going to enter the clinical trial phase in 3-5 months, reports PTI. These four vaccines are currently in the pre-clinical trial stage. Also Read – COVID-19 Live Updates: Cases in India surge to 1,38,845 as death toll reaches 4,021

PTI has quoted Health Minister Harsh Vardhan saying, “It’s very difficult to predict when a vaccine will come, but as a doctor, I can say that the process it involves, one year would be a modest estimate. Till the vaccine is not developed, people should use social vaccines like the mask and social distancing.” Also Read – ICMR revises guidelines for use of hydroxychloroquine: Study says the drug can increase death risk

A new Chinese vaccine can be the ray of hope against COVID-19

A China-based research team has developed a vaccine and preliminary evidences show positive results. Various reports suggest that this vaccine, which has reached the human clinical trial phase, is safe to use. It has been made with the mutation of a virus named Ad5. Once injected into the cell, it genetically modifies its protein structure. After your body identifies the virus, it is able to break down the molecule and stop it from reproducing further. In the tests completed so far, researchers have observed that a single dose of this vaccine produced certain immune cells known as T cells within two weeks and the antibodies required for immunity reached its peak within 28 days. In the trial, it has also been observed that people with Ad5 antibodies had a lower chance of developing a strong immune response to this vaccine. This data, however, has been drawn from a very short testing period, a major drawback of this study. Researchers also found side effects in patients administered the highest dose (the most effective one). They include nausea, fatigue, pain, fever and headache.

Potential Oxford vaccine fails to beat COVID-19

Oxford University has tested a high-profile potential vaccine for COVID-19 which was unsuccessful in protecting monkeys from the novel coronavirus. However, it proved to be protective against pneumonia. For this vaccine, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, researchers used a genetically modified, weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) from chimpanzees. The intention is to generate an immune response and prep the body to fight back future infection. The trial of this vaccine was fast-tracked as a similar one had already been tested by scientists in humans for other viruses, including MERS and Ebola.

Moderna vaccine shows promising results

A COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the US pharmaceutical company Moderna has been much talked about in recent times. Known as mRNA-1273, this vaccine is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials under the aegis of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Researchers have expressed that it has the potential to prevent COVID-19. For the trial conducted on eight patients, two doses of this gene-based vaccine was administered to the participants. Researchers found that two weeks after vaccination, participants who received the lowest dosage had developed enough antibodies to ward off the infection. People who got higher doses of it had higher volumes of antibodies. The side effects that have been found so far include chills and a little redness in the place where the injection had been given.

Vaccines in human trial as of now

According to the latest updates of the World Health Organization, there are 10 COVID-19 vaccines which have entered human trials

  • Non-replicating viral vector vaccine from CanSino (China)
  • RNA vaccine from Moderna (USA)
  • Inactivated vaccine from Wuhan Institute of Biological Products (China)
  • Inactivated vaccine from Beijing Institute of Biological Products (China)
  • Inactivated vaccine from Sinovac (China)
  • Non-replicating viral vector vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca (UK)
  • Protein subunit vaccine from Novavax (US)
  • RNA vaccine from BioNTech and Pfizer (Germany/USA)
  • DNA vaccine from Inovio (US)

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