Trials of Hope: Latest updates on Corona Vaccine development


As many as 83 companies across the world are in the race to develop a vaccine against the deadly virus and six have already moved to human trials or clinical evaluation stage while 77 are in pre-clinical evaluation phase, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) database. Reports also indicate that more than 640 molecules have been developed already. Here are a few updates:

  1. Subject of Oxford drug trial is `fine’

The authorities have clarified that the woman who was one of the first people injected as part of human trials for a coronavirus vaccine developed by the Oxford University is doing fine. The clarification comes in the wake of `fake news’ about the death of microbiologist Elisa Granato, who took part in the UK trial in Oxford. The Government said the story is ‘completely untrue’.

Dr Granato herself tweeted about the news: ‘Nothing like waking up to a fake article on your death … I’m doing fine everyone.’

The drug is expected by September, as per the current progress in the human trials.

2. Gilead’s trial ahead of schedule

Despite some confusion and reports about the failure, the ongoing trial of Remdesivir by Gilead Sciences is running ahead of schedule and and the preliminary reports will be out soon.

The trial by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has already enrolled well over 500 people, with 50% of the patients receiving the drug and 50% receiving a placebo.

The final results aren’t expected until mid-to-late May, said Dr. Andre Kalil, a principal investigator for the trial. But he said “we can potentially have some early data in the next one or two weeks,” contingent on a preliminary analysis. “In the next few weeks, we’re going to do the analysis, and we’re going to basically know if remdesivir is better or not than placebo,” he told CNN.

3. Famotidine trials progressing 

Over the past weeks, trials have been going discreetly on famotidine, active ingredient in Pepcid, an over-the-counter medication commonly used to alleviate heartburn.

Since March 13, researchers at Northwell Health, a network of hospitals in New York, have been enrolling patients hospitalized with COVID-19 into their study of famotidine, reports said.

The drug is being given in combination with the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine. The scientists expect some data on the safety to be made available in a few weeks. More than 180 patients have been included in the study.

4. Leprosy drug under trial in India

PGI hospital, Chandigarh has reportedly assessed the safety of anti-leprosy drug Mw and is planning to launch the clinical trials. Reports said it was given to four patients and no short-term adverse effects were observed.

“The impact of the Mw use on long-term safety and efficacy will only be known after conclusion of this CSIR-supported clinical trial, which will be initiated soon at all three centres,” the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) said in a statement.

The PGIMER, the AIIMS Delhi and the AIIMS Bhopal will study the use of Mycobacterium w (heat-killed Mycobacterium indicus pranii) as adjunct to the treatment of critically-ill COVID-19 patients.

5.Rs 1000 per dose of Oxford drug in India

Serum Institute of India (SII) which has tied up with Oxford University to manfuacture the much-awaited vaccine plans to manufacture upto 40 m doses by September and make them affordable in India at Rs 1000 per dose, according to the media reports.

The Pune-based company plans to start production of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University in the next two to three weeks, instead of waiting for the current trials to be over in the UK.


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