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How close are we to a coronavirus vaccine? – National Post
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AstraZeneca has had to pause trials twice after participants fell seriously ill and while work has resumed in the UK and elsewhere, the research remains on hold in the US.
Which countries have bought doses so far?
Despite global appeals from the WHO for countries to pursue multilateral deals that provide for the equitable distribution of doses, the trials have sparked a multibillion-dollar flurry of vaccine dealmaking by national governments.
The US government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority is the biggest spender so far, having distributed more than $10bn in funding for vaccine candidates, either via direct financing or through vaccine procurement agreements.
Bar chart showing amount spent on COVID-19 vaccine candidates in billions of dollars
On a per-capita basis, the UK has built the largest and most diversified vaccine portfolio, according to data from Deutsche Bank, having pre-ordered more than five doses per citizen spread across six leading vaccine candidates. The UK is followed closely by the US, Canada and Japan.
In total, dealmaking by the US, UK, EU, Japan and other rich nations has meant wealthy countries representing just 13 per cent of the world’s population have bought more than half of the leading vaccine candidates’ promised doses, according to Oxfam, the charity.
Covax, the global vaccine procurement facility, designed to ensure the equitable distribution of doses, only this week secured the participation of 64 higher income countries. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, one of the founders of the facility, has invested up to $895m in nine COVID-19 vaccine candidates that will be distributed under the programme.
COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record pace. And that's a serious concern – National Post
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Part of the problem is that the science keeps shifting, evolving. Is COVID airborne or not? What’s the size of a particle, a droplet? “Should you be six feet away, should it be three feet, should it be 2,000,” Johnson said. “It’s not wrong, it just looks like science doesn’t know.”
Safety, need, big-pharma conspiracies and does-science-actually-know-what-it’s-doing are the main features that appear among the “not-sure’s,” Johnson said.
“But we also see it — and I think this is even more scary — in the yes’s, the ones that say ‘they would get a vaccine’, who then inside are thinking, ‘yeah, but I wouldn’t be first in line. I’m going to wait until my whole street, everybody I know has it, and if they’re still standing a few months later I’ll get one.’”
Among the narratives he’s read: What happens if you have the first shot at the same time as the flu shot? What happens if I’ve already had antibodies in me and I have the vaccine, is that bad? “These are the things occurring to them.”
Dozens of vaccines are now being tested in humans. It’s not clear which strategy will be the most successful. The best vaccines are the ones that most closely mimic a natural infection, without making the person sick, or killing them.
Vaccines use parts of the virus — in the case of most of the frontrunner vaccines, the spike protein the virus uses to attach to and enter cells— to goad the body into making an immune response.
A COVID vaccine doesn’t have to be as good as vaccines against highly infectious viruses like the measles, said McMaster University’s Dr. Matthew Miller, an infectious diseases researcher.
Chinese company says coronavirus vaccine ready by early 2021 – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Sam McNeil, The Associated Press
Published Thursday, September 24, 2020 10:20PM EDT
BEIJING – A Chinese pharmaceutical company said Thursday the coronavirus vaccine it is developing should be ready by early 2021 for distribution worldwide, including the United States.
Yin Weidong, the CEO of SinoVac, vowed to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell CoronaVac in the United States if it passes its third and final round of testing in humans. Yin said he personally has been given the experimental vaccine.
“At the very beginning, our strategy was designed for China and for Wuhan. Soon after that in June and July we adjusted our strategy, that is to face the world,” Yin said, referring to the Chinese city were the virus first emerged.
“Our goal is to provide the vaccine to the world including the U.S., EU and others,” Yin said.
Stringent regulations in the U.S., European Union, Japan and Australia have historically blocked the sale of Chinese vaccines. But Yin said that could change.
SinoVac is developing one of China’s top four vaccine candidates along with state-owned SinoPharm, which has two in development, and military-affiliated private firm CanSino.
More than 24,000 people are participating in clinical trials of CoronaVac in Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia, with additional trials scheduled for Bangladesh and possibly Chile, Yin said. SinoVac chose those countries because they all had serious outbreaks, large populations and limited research and development capacity, he said.
He spoke to reporters during a tour of a SinoVac plant south of Beijing. Built in a few months from scratch, the plant is designed to enable SinoVac to produce half a million vaccine doses a year. The bio-secure facility was already busy on Thursday filling tiny bottles with the vaccine and boxing them. The company projects it will be able to produce a few hundred million doses of the vaccine by February or March of next year.
SinoVac is also starting to test small doses of CoronaVac on children and the elderly in China after noticing rising numbers of cases globally among those two groups.
Yin said the company would prioritize distribution of the vaccine to countries hosting human trials of CoronaVac.
While the vaccine has not yet passed the phase 3 clinical trials, a globally accepted standard, SinoVac has already injected thousands of people in China under an emergency use provision.
Yin said he was one of the first to receive the experimental vaccine months ago along with researchers after phase one and two of human trials showed no serious adverse effects. He said that self-injecting showed his support for CoronaVac.
“This is kind of a tradition of our company,” Yin said, adding that he had done the same with a hepatitis vaccine under development.
Earlier this year, China permitted “emergency use” of vaccine candidates for at-risk populations like border personnel and medical workers if companies could show “good safety and good antibodies” from tests of about 1,000 people, Yin said.
SinoVac received that approval in June along with SinoPharm and CanSino, and was able to provide tens of thousands of doses of CoronaVac to Beijing’s municipal government, Yin said.
SinoVac employees qualified for emergency use of the vaccine because an outbreak inside the company would cripple its ability to develop a vaccine, he said. About 90% of the company’s staff have received it.
“We are confident that our research of the COVI-19 vaccines can meet the standards of the U.S. and EU countries,” Yin said.
— Associated Press video producer Olivia Zhang contributed to this report.
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