Lancet expects COVID-19 vaccine studies to yield quicker results

Sun Online Desk

7th June, 2020 08:15:54 printer

Lancet expects COVID-19 vaccine studies to yield quicker results


One of world’s oldest medical journals The Lancet today expected quicker success of COVID-19 vaccine studies unlike experiences about other inoculates as the globe now witnesses a race among drug makers and researchers to come up with a vaccine against the coronavirus.

“What’s happened so far has been nothing short of amazing”, the journal quoted as saying Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute’s chief executive officer (CEO) and vaccinologist Penny Heaton.

She attributed the developments to previous investments in “new vaccine technology platforms” amid expert speculations that instead of being one several vaccines could emerge in a near simultaneous time with Bloomberg news group predicting “more than one horse can win this race”.

“Some of us might end up getting a shot of a more traditional vaccine, which uses parts of an inactivated virus to stimulate immunity. Others might get vaccines based on emerging technologies that use synthetic versions of the virus’s genetic code,” read a Bloomberg analysis.

It predicted that some vaccines could be extremely effective but even a less-effective vaccine might work well enough to provide herd immunity in a wider population while some inoculates would be more appropriate for health care workers, who need protection in soonest possible time.

The Lancet article, however, came as British drugmaker AstraZeneca announced to have doubled manufacturing capacity for its potential Oxford University coronavirus vaccine to 2 billion doses in two deals involving Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates that guarantee early supply to lower income countries.

World Health Organisation (WHO) backed the deals along with epidemic response group CEPI and vaccine alliance GAVI, visibly to quell concerns that the company was committing all initial supplies of the potential vaccine to the developed world.

AstraZeneca earlier also agreed terms with Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines by volume, to supply one billion doses for low and middle-income countries.

The international medical protocol demands the vaccines to be exhaust three phases of trial on human while the AstraZeneca venture with Oxford University currently reached “Phase 2b/3”  while US drug maker Moderna and China’s CanSino Biologics now are exhausting the phase 2.

Seven other vaccines against COVID-19 are currently on clinical trials as WHO acknowledges that experiments were underway with over 100 inoculates across the world.

The analyses and developments came as coronavirus continued to expand its clutches with Brazil at the moment appearing as its worst victim with COVID-19 killing one Brazilian in every minute, prompting the Latin American country to allow testing of the Oxford’s experimental vaccine.

Brazil’s health surveillance agency Anvisa gave the approval while Federal University of Sao Paulo (Unifesp) said some 2,000 people will participate in the trial while Oxford researchers and AstraZeneca hope to have the first phase 3 data in hand this summer.

The Lancet, however, said despite the developments “challenges remain” as vaccine development is “typically a long game” saying on average, it takes 10 years to develop a vaccine.

It said vaccine developers need to align behind correlates of immunity, the immune response biomarkers that are measured in a laboratory to assess the effects of vaccination to be followed by independent validation to ensure that only the best candidates are moved forward.

The Lancet cited example of the Ebola vaccine that secured US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval last year, 43 years after the deadly virus was discovered and noted that vaccinologists made little headway with a vaccine against HIV despite huge investments.

The medical peer review journal commented that even 18 months for a first vaccine is an incredibly aggressive schedule but “a few optimists believe that hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine might be ready for roll-out by the end of 2020”.

“It might be,” the article read.

Many experts said unlike most previous time-consuming vaccine experiments, there are good reasons to be optimistic about quick success of COVID-19 inoculates as it is clear that most humans who get infected recover, meaning human immune system can eliminate the coronavirus unlike the cases of HIV infection.

The phenomenon suggests that coronavirus is a much easier target for a vaccine than HIV.