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Which vaccines are winning the race to tame Covid-19?

  • Published at 02:04 pm November 19th, 2020
coronavirus covid-19 vaccine
Representational photo Bigstock

Taking a look at some of the leading vaccines, and how they may help bring an end to the global crisis

The race to develop a proper vaccine for Covid-19 began right after the pandemic started its rampage back in March.  

About ten Covid-19 vaccines are currently in phase 3 trials -- the last stage of efficacy testing before a vaccine can be fully deployed in the wider population, reports Alliance for Science. 

Let us take a look at some of those leading vaccines, and how they may help in bringing an end to the global crisis.

BioNTech/Pfizer

Pfizer Inc, the American multinational pharmaceutical corporation, has teamed up with BioNTech, a German biotechnology company, to develop this vaccine.

According to data released on November 18, their mRNA-based vaccine is at least 95% effective in preventing infection with Covid-19 after tests on more than 43,000 people.

mRNA vaccines are an entirely new technology. They have the advantage of being easy and quick to tweak if the virus mutates significantly.

Pfizer says it will submit for The United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) emergency use authorization around the third week of November. Many countries, including the UK, have already ordered millions of doses of the vaccine in advance.

Moderna/NIAID

Moderna reported an efficacy rate of around 95% in preventing Covid-19, based on preliminary phase 3 data, on November 16. This interim analysis was based on 95 cases.

The American biotechnology company also uses mRNA technology, like the Pfizer vaccine.

Moderna says that it will apply for emergency use authorization from the FDA “in the coming weeks.” The company says it will have 20 million doses of mRNA-1273 ready to ship by the end of 2020, and that it remains on track to manufacture 500 million to 1 billion doses globally in 2021.

Oxford/AstraZeneca’s AZD122

AstraZeneca’s prospective Covid-19 vaccine uses a weakened form of a common cold virus that usually infects chimpanzees.

This vaccine is currently in phase 3 trials in the UK, Brazil, South Africa and the US.

The British multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company has already reached an agreement with the EU to supply 400 million doses of the vaccine on a no-profit basis.

Manufacturing of the vaccine has already begun in Australia, with 30 million doses starting production in early November.

Sinovac and Sinopharm

These Chinese Covid-19 vaccine candidates use the tried-and-tested method of inactivated viruses as a vaccine. 

Sinopharm is currently running a phase 3 trial among 15,000 people in Abu Dhabi, while Sinovac is running a trial in 9,000 health care professionals in Brazil.

The state-owned company Sinopharm said in November that out of 56,000 people who had received its vaccination and travelled abroad, none had been infected with coronavirus.

According to reports, hundreds of thousands of Chinese have already received the vaccine, reports Alliance for Science.

Johnson & Johnson

The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine also uses genetically-engineered adenovirus as a vector, much like the Oxford vaccine. 

The company launched its phase 3 trials in September with 60,000 volunteers across three continents to study the efficacy of its Covid-19 vaccine versus a placebo.

The American multinational corporation is scaling up manufacturing and plans to have a billion doses available in 2021.

Russia’s Sputnik V

Russia already claims to have won the vaccine race with its Sputnik V vaccine although it has not yet completed its trials. Moreover, some researchers have raised questions about apparent duplications in the published data on the trials and other concerns.

The vaccine is another adenovirus vector approach and is being developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute, part of Russia’s ministry of health. A 40,000-person formal phase 3 trial is currently underway in Russia.

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