Covid-19 Vaccine

Science • Medicine
Pfizer and US reach $1.95 billion deal for Covid-19 vaccine
Pfizer and US reach $1.95 billion deal for Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Rhoda Baer (Photographer) / Public domain

The US government has agreed to pay $1.95 billion for 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotechnology company. The vaccine called BNT162 is currently still in development and early clinical trials. The agreement further states that the US could buy another 500 million doses, provided that the vaccine is both safe and effective as well as approved b the US Food and Drug Administration.

Health
Study: Oxford Covid-19 vaccine triggers immune response

Researchers from Oxford have published new results from their ongoing trails of a possible Covid-19 vaccine. During the last trial that involved 1,077 people, it showed that the experimental vaccine not only leads the patients to develop antibodies but also T-cells that are able to fight the virus.

The United Kingdom has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine. Further trials are still underway to determine if patients develop a long term immunitiy.

Science • Medicine
UK, US & Canada warn of Russian spies trying to steal Covid-19 vaccine research
UK, US & Canada warn of Russian spies trying to steal Covid-19 vaccine research
Credit: unsplash.com/Louis Reed

American, British and Canadian governments have warned of Russian hackers trying to steal Covid-19 vaccine research by exploiting software flaws to access computer systems. While the UK's National Cyber Security Centre is "almost certain" that the attack came from a "part of Russian intelligence services", Russia has denied these claims.

"We do not have information about who may have hacked into pharmaceutical companies and research centres in Great Britain. We can say one thing - Russia has nothing at all to do with these attempts," so Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson of President Putin.

Health
Immune response induced by Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in first phase
Immune response induced by Moderna Covid-19 vaccine in first phase
Credit: Moderna

In a first phase study, a possible Covid-19 vaccine developed by the biotech company Moderna together with the National Institutes of Health has induced immune responses in all of the patients. While the vaccine had mild side effects such as chills, headache or muscle pain, it is the first vaccine candidate from the United States to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

A large phase three trial will be started this month after which, depending on the results, regulators will decide of it'll made available to the public.

Health
Oxford researchers claim that their Covid-19 vaccine could give long term immunity
Oxford researchers claim that their Covid-19 vaccine could give long term immunity
Credit: unsplash.com / National Cancer Institute

Professor Sarah Gilbert has announced that the Covid-19 vaccine that is currently in trials at Oxford could provide long term immunity and has been found to generate three times higher levels of antibodies than in patients who recovered from Covid-19. Similar vaccines that use the same type of technology have shown that people show strong immune responses even after a longer time. Gilbert has said that they are optimistic as earlier studies have shown promising results.

Regional News • Asia • China
China approves Covid-19 vaccine for usage in its military
China approves Covid-19 vaccine for usage in its military
Credit: Bicanski

The Chinese military has developed a Covid-19 vaccine in its research unit together with the biotech firm CanSino Biologics. The vaccine has now been approved for military use as it shows a "good safety profile". Currently, the approval has been granted for one year as the studies are not fully conclusive and the vaccine only shows the potential to prevent symptoms from the Covid-19 infections. CanSino Biologics has also stated that it can't guarantee public access to the vaccine.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazil to start production of experimental Covid-19 vaccine
Brazil to start production of experimental Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

The Brazilian government has announced on Saturday that it will start producing an experimental Covid-19 vaccine locally. The government has signed an agreement worth $127 million with AstraZeneca who developed the experimental vaccine. According to the World Health Organization the vaccine is considered the world's leading candidate which has been developed by researchers at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Human trials are still undergoing and final proof of the effect against Covid-19 is still pending.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazil is close to a deal to produce Oxford Covid-19 vaccine
Brazil is close to a deal to produce Oxford Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Brazilian interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said Brazil is close to signing a contract to produce a trial vaccine developed by the Oxford University and supported by AstraZeneca.

The country started human clinical trials for the potential vaccine this weekend with 3,000 people in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, becoming the first country outside the United Kingdom to test the vaccine.

Oxford researchers expect to launch the vaccine by year-end.

Regional News • Europe
AstraZeneca agrees to supply Europe Union members with 400 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine
AstraZeneca Manufacturing
AstraZeneca Manufacturing Credit: AstraZeneca

Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA), a group formed by the Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy, concluded a contract with AstraZeneca to provide 400 million doses of a possible vaccine developed by the University of Oxford. If the trial results convince regulators the vaccine is safe and effective, deliveries are expected to start by the end of 2020.

The company reached similar agreements with the United Kingdom and with the United States.

Business • Economy
Mastercard announces that employees can decide by themselves "when they feel comfortable" to return to offices

According to Mastercard about 90% of its employees are currently working remotely, despite most offices being open for work. The chief executive Ajay Banga said that "I'm not planning on getting back to a pre-Covid growth scenario for another year. I think that could be sometime next year when a vaccine is readily available and readily distributed." All employees can "make the decision on when they feel comfortable returning to an office. They know their personal circumstances and needs".

Science • Medicine
University of Oxford Plans to Roll Out Covid-19 Vaccine by September if Trials Successfull
University of Oxford
University of Oxford Credit: unsplash.com/Tetiana SHYSHKINA

In his Sunday briefing, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said clinical trials for the Covid-19 vaccine by the University of Oxford were progressing well. The trial is currently in phase one and all participants have received their doses. Oxford has received over £47 million by the government so far and Sharma announced another £84 million in new funding.

Sharma added: "This means that if the vaccine is successful AstraZeneca (a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company) will work to make 30 million doses available by September for the UK as part of an agreement for over 100 million doses in total."

Science • Medicine
Johnson & Johnson aiming to produce 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines in 2021

Johnson & Johnson, multinational medical and pharmaceutical corporation, said in a statement on Sunday that they "aim to deliver 1 billion (Covid-19) vaccines next year". According to Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer, the company is starting clinical trials in September and is planning to upscale their manufacturing to be able to start producing the vaccine late this year. Stoffel added “We will have some vaccine available this year, but it will depend on the authorities – the FDA and others – to decide whether it can be used earlier, before efficacy data are available".

Health
Scientists conduct llama antibody research to fight Covid-19

Since 2016 researchers have used over 130 llamas from a research farm in Belgium for antibody research against the MERS and SARS viruses, which are similar to Covid-19. The researchers found that llamas produce a special type of antibodies called nanobodies which are effective against MERS and SARS and suggest that a possible treatment of Covid-19 could also be possible. The researchers from the US and Belgium are currently conducting further research.

Sports
Tokyo Olympics next year could be cancelled without a coronavirus vaccine

It will be difficult for Tokyo to host the Olympic Games next year unless there is an effective vaccine against the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, Yoshitake Yokokura, the head of the Japan Medical Association (JMA) said Tuesday.

Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the Tokyo Games until July 23, 2021, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Japan is under a month-long state of emergency amid a rapid increase of infections across the country.

The president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee Yoshiro Mori states there would be no more delays: “No, in that situation, it will be canceled,” he said. “In the past, when there were such problems, like wartime, it has been canceled. This time, we are fighting an invisible enemy.”.

Health
Second potential Covid-19 vaccine has been cleared for human trials in the US

The United States Food and Drug Administration has cleared the INO-4800 DNA vaccine candidate by the company Inovio Pharmaceuticals for human testing. The company has gotten funding from different nonprofits and organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Currently, the company is preparing to inject the first test subject with the potential vaccine.

Health
WHO announces that over 20 vaccines for the coronavirus are in development

According to the World Health Organization, just 60 days after the gene was first sequenced, over 20 vaccines are under development worldwide. Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said at a press conference that "The acceleration of this process is really truly dramatic in terms of what we’re able to do, building on work that started with SARS, that started with MERS and now is being used for COVID-19" and that the first vaccines are already in clinical trials. Even though the process is done in record time, it will take several more months to develop and then produce.