Coronavirus vaccine: Most promising jabs around the world – and when they could be ready
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With coronavirus cases around the world now at over 56 million, scientists have been working around the clock to develop a vaccine.
Several vaccines have hit the headlines in recent weeks with promising results, including jabs from Pfizer, Moderna and the University of Oxford.
In fact, just today, results from Phase II trials of the Oxford jab showed that it produces 'strong immune response' in healthy older adults, raising hopes it could be rolled out in the UK soon.
However, dozens of vaccines are actually being developed and tested around the world.
Other promising candidates include a jab being developed by CanSino and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in China, and one from a team at the Gamaleya Research Institute in Russia.
Here’s a look at the vaccines under development around the world, and when they could be ready.
Pfizer and BioNTech
Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, called BNT162b2, is currently undergoing Phase III trials, and has been found to be more than 95% effective in preventing Covid-19 in participants.
The drugmaker said efficacy of the vaccine was consistent across age and ethnicity demographics, and that there were no major side effects, a sign that the immunization could be employed broadly around the world.
Efficacy in adults over 65 years, who are at particular risk from the virus, was over 94%.
The final analysis comes just one week after initial results from the trial showed the vaccine was more than 90% effective.
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Following the results, Pfizer and BioNTech plan to submit the vaccine to the US Food and Drug Administration in the third week of November, indicating it could be rolled out before Christmas.
The UK government has already purchased 40 million doses, and claims that 10 million will be made available before Christmas.
University of Oxford and AstraZeneca
A jab developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca was initially tipped to be the front-runner in the fight against Covid-19, and is now just weeks behind Pfizer’s vaccine.
The vaccine, called ChAdOx1, is also undergoing Phase III trials around the world, with results expected in a matter of weeks.
Today, the vaccine was shown to trigger a robust immune response in healthy adults aged 56-69 and people over 70.
Phase two data, published in The Lancet, suggests one of the groups most vulnerable to serious illness and death from Covid-19 could build immunity, researchers say.
Oxford coronavirus vaccine produces 'strong immune response' in healthy older adults
According to the researchers, volunteers in the trial demonstrated similar immune responses across all three age groups (18-55, 56-69, and 70 and over).
The study of 560 healthy adults – including 240 over the age of 70 – found the vaccine is better tolerated in older people compared with younger adults.
The UK has already stockpiled four million doses of the University of Oxford’s vaccine, in the hopes of starting to offer the vaccine to vulnerable Brits before the end of the year.
US pharmaceutical film Moderna has relied on similar technology to Pfizer produce its vaccine.
Their vaccine, called mRNA-1273, is also undergoing Phase III trials, in which 30,000 US participants will receive the jab.
This week, Moderna announced that its vaccine may prevent 94.5% of people from getting Covid-19.
Interim data from the US firm Moderna suggests its vaccine is highly effective in preventing people getting ill and also works across all age groups, including the elderly.
While the UK has not placed an order for the vaccine, the Government has confirmed that it is in discussions with Moderna to "ensure UK access to their vaccine".
But any doses would not be available until Spring 2021 "at the earliest".
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"The news from Moderna appears to be good and represents another significant step towards finding an effective Covid-19 vaccine," a government spokesperson said.
"As part of the ongoing work of the Vaccines Taskforce, the Government is in advanced discussions with Moderna to ensure UK access to their vaccine as part of the wider UK portfolio.
"Moderna are currently scaling up their European supply chain which means these doses would become available in spring 2021 in the UK at the earliest."
CanSino and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology in China
CanSino’s vaccine, Ad5-nCoV, is a viral vector vaccine, and is one of the lead vaccine contenders in China.
Results from the Phase II trial showed that the vaccine produces ‘significant immune responses in the majority of recipients’, with no serious side effects.
And while CanSino is technically still in Phase II of its trial, in June the pharmaceutical company became the first to receive limited approval to use its vaccine in people.
The Chinese government has approved the vaccine for military use only, and it remains unclear when it expects to roll it out to the public.
Gamaleya Research Institute in Russia
Russia has steamed ahead with its leading vaccine candidate, Sputnik V, despite a lack of published evidence it’s safe for use.
The vaccine uses two strains of adenovirus, and requires a second follow-up injection after 21 days to boost the immune response.
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Russia is yet to publish any data from its clinical trials, but claims that the vaccine is 92% effective.
In a statement, the Gamaleya Research Institute said that 20 of 16,000 volunteers who received the vaccine contracted Covid-19.
It added: “As a result of a statistical analysis of 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the case split between vaccinated individuals and those who received the placebo indicates that the Sputnik V vaccine had an efficacy rate of 92% after the second dose.”
Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen received the green light yesterday to carry out late stage trials for its coronavirus vaccine in Mexico.
The vaccine, called Ad26.COV2-S started its Phase III trial in September, including 60,000 people in 215 sites in the US, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and South Africa.
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Maryland-based Novavax has developed a vaccine candidate called NVX-CoV2373 that is administered in two doses, 21 days apart.
At the end of September, Novavax announced the launch of its Phase III trial in the UK, which will tests the vaccine up to 10,000 people.
And this week, the FDA granted the vaccine fast track designation, meaning it could be rolled out in the US soon.
Dr Gregory Glenn, President of Research and Development at Novavax, said: “The FDA’s decision to grant Fast Track Designation for NVX-CoV2373 reflects the urgent need for a safe and effective vaccine to prevent COVID-19, and we look forward to working closely with the agency to accelerate access to this vaccine.
“While the regulatory review of this clinical program will be expedited, Novavax remains committed to a data-driven and scientifically rigorous approach in demonstrating safety and efficacy, which we believe will support confidence in the vaccine in the U.S. and globally.”