Globally the race for COVID-19 vaccine is progressing at high speed. Scientists, experts and doctors are doing their best to bring out the vaccine as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Pfizer, Moderna, CoronaVac and Oxford COVID-19, are leading in the race as of now.
There are different phases for the trial that a candidate has to go through. Phase 1 testing is to ensure the safety of the vaccine, determine the dosage and identify the potential side effects, if any. Phase 2 trials are done in a larger group to ensure the safety and efficiency among them. The final stage, Phase 3, involves thousands of people being tested with the vaccine, to ensure the effectiveness of the same.
Here are the top 5 countries who are leading in the research of COVID-19 vaccine:
Countries leading in COVID-19 Vaccine trials
- United States of America
The United States is leading in the trials of the vaccines, with Pfizer and Moderna at Phase 3 and have shown advanced progress.
On November 18, Pfizer-BioNTech stated that it has the most effective result rate of 95 per cent, which is much higher than the 60 per cent bar set by the US Food and Drug Administration. The vaccine has also surpassed the minimum number of infections that are required to end the rials.
On the other, hand, Moderna, a Cambridge, Massachusetts based biotech company announced on Monday that its vaccine is at 94.5 per cent rating, which is not far behind. Although, the trials have shown that there are a few drawbacks of the vaccine, alarming none.
Among the vaccinated group, zero severe cases of COVID-19 were reported for Moderna. Dr Howard Forman, a health policy expert at Yale University, told in a panel discussion that Moderna claimed to be 100 per cent effective and that if it could hold up across the population, normal life would soon come back.
Trials for Novavax is also under process, and soon the testing is to happen in India as well. Johnson & Johnson, which have entered the race late, picked up quite quickly with the vaccine development. However, after one of the candidates developed an illness, this was halted. Eli Lilly’s antibody shot, Regeneron, which is also used to treat Mr Donald Trump, is also in a combined trial phase of Phase 2 and 3.
- United Kingdom
Vaccine trials from the UK were the first-ever that emerged. The Oxford vaccine, which faced setbacks previously, has now rejoined the race. The vaccines tested in other countries will be subjected to a review by the European Union, after which it could reach around the world at a faster pace.
China was the epicentre of the virus outbreak and also emerged with vaccine development programme soon. 7 vaccine trials are working alongside, of which two have been granted emergency use authorization, while others are at the final stage of tests and developments.
Latest report state that Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac Biotech could have the results of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine –CoronaVac– from late-stage clinical trials as soon as next month, an executive said on Friday. Its last stage trails is mostly being conducted in Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey.
Russia was one among the first ones to register a COVID-19 vaccine in August. Trials for the release of another vaccine are under process. Despite facing criticism, it has emerged as one of the strongest players in the vaccine development race. Twenty countries, minimum have expressed interest to procure the vaccine from Russia.
Although India’s start a little late in the race, it has got a strategic position in the global vaccine hunt. Trials for Ayurvedic medicines are also in progress.
Oxford COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be available to in India around February 2021 says Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Pune based Serum Institute, India (SII). However, the vaccine will be first use among healthcare workers and older adults by and by April, it will be available to the general public.
The Oxford COVID-19 vaccine is said to be affordable, safe and stored at a temperature of 2-8 degrees Celsius, which is an ideal temperature for storing in the cold storages of India. Mr Poonawalla said the SII plans to make about ten crore doses per month from February.
Mr Poonawalla also said at Hindustan Times Leadership Summit (HTLS), 2020, that every Indian would get vaccinated probably by 2024. He stated that the delay of 2-3 years is mainly due to the need to budget, the vaccine, logistics, infrastructure along with the willingness of people to take the vaccine apart from the supply constraints. So these are the factors that lead up to being able to vaccinate 80-90 per cent of the population.
He said that the vaccine would be available around USD 5-6 per dose with an MRP of around Rs 1,000 for the two necessary doses, which is much cheaper to the vaccines which are available in the market. In his words, the efficacy of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine till now is proving to work very well even in older adults, which was a concern earlier.
“It has induced a good T-cell response, which is an indicator for your long-term immunity and antibody response but then again, time will only tell if these vaccines are going to protect you in the long term. Nobody can answer that for any of the vaccines today,” Mr Poonawalla said.
According to Mr Poonawalla efficacy and immunogenicity results from the Indian trials of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine is positive. Still, it will have to wait for month-and-a-half for a consolidated report.
Mr Poonawalla emphasized that handle India as a priority first and manage Africa and then only will his company be addressing the demands of other countries. He said 30-40 crore doses of the Oxford vaccine would be available by the first quarter of 2021.
Apart from SII, Bharat Biotech also announced on Monday that it is going to conduct human phase-3 trials of the vaccine among 26,000 participants. The Hyderabad based company has been developing the vaccine, Covaxin, in collaboration with ICMR. The first doses of the vaccine were carried out on volunteers at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences on Monday and will be monitored over the next year. Covaxin has shown safety and has given effective data results during phase-1, and phase -2 said the company.
Moreover, AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said in a summit that there is some talk going on between Pfizer and the Indian government but not much with Moderna.
However, the challenge as far as the Pfizer vaccine is concerned, is that it needs a cold chain of minus 70 degrees Celsius.
India is the second worst-hit country in the world, with almost 9 million cases. However, the numbers are gradually declining since October. President Vladimir Putin has said that agreements have been signed for the local production of the Russian vaccine in India and China.
Scientists are hoping to develop a vaccine in less than a year. With Pfizer having effective results, the US government has told that the production of the dosage will speed up and all free vaccine will be given to their citizens by the end of 2021. Vaccines are said to be available globally by the end of 2021 if the trials continue at this rate.