[Newsletter] Round-Up of COVID-19 Vaccine Updates: Week Commencing September 21, 2020

With the news on the novel coronavirus pandemic ever-changing, and the search for COVID-19 therapeutics still continuing, it is difficult to stay on top of the goings-on of the therapeutics in development. To help you stay on top of things, Nidhi Parekh of The Shared Microscope writes weekly updates on the therapeutics alone.

Struggling to keep up with the goings-on of the COVID-19 therapeutics?! We’ve got you covered! Check out our weekly COVID-19 Newsletter for the latest information on COVID-19 drugs and vaccines. #TSMUpdates #VaccineInfo #COVID19Updates

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COVID-19 Top Vaccines

There are currently 11 COVID-19 vaccines in the final phase of clinical trials. The final phase results of all these vaccines are currently awaited. For more information on the regulatory process for vaccines (which is a labyrinth), check out this post here.

1. The Oxford/AstraZeneca Vaccine

What is the Oxford/AstraZeneca Vaccine?

Among the top COVID-19 vaccine contenders, is the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The vaccine uses a replication-defective viral vector type vaccine – for a jargon-free article explaining these terms, check out our post here.

Latest Update

After a temporary pause due to a suspected adverse reaction, the AstraZeneca trial was resumed in the UK and in Brazil on September 12, 2020. The trial has still not been resumed in the U.S.

CNN reports that it is “just a matter of time” before the vaccine’s trials are resumed in the U.S. However, one week on, and still no resumption of these vaccine trials in the United States. The FDA has requested further data on the adverse reactions from this study so far.

Researchers at Imperial College London will shortly begin testing the Oxford University/AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 when administered by inhalation in an initial cohort of 30 participants. Volunteers will receive the vaccine through a nebulizer, which delivers the vaccine as airborne droplets through a mouthpiece.

To learn more about how the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine works, how it trains our immune system, how it’s made, the evidence behind how the vaccine works, etc. check out our post here.

2. The Moderna Vaccine

Moderna’s mRNA Vaccine for COVID-19: How Does It Work?

Counting down the days until there is a COVID-19 vaccine and the novel coronavirus pandemic is over? Nidhi Parekh of The Shared Microscope and Sheeva Azma of Fancy Comma, LLC are here to discuss a front-runner in the race to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. In this post, we talk about the Moderna mRNA vaccine — and help you learn more about how it works and why it is so promising.

What is the Moderna Vaccine?

The Moderna vaccine is an mRNA type vaccine – it contains all the necessary information on how to produce the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. For more on how this vaccine works, feel free to check out our blog post here.

Latest Update

Moderna have confirmed that “as of Friday, September 25, 2020, 27,232 participants [up from 25,976 participants] have been enrolled in the Phase 3 COVE [Coronavirus Efficacy] study” conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). In addition to this, they also add that “31% of participants enrolled cumulatively are from diverse communities.” 14,454 participants [up from 11,879 participants] have received their second dose of the vaccination and will undergo observation should any problems with safety and efficacy be identified.

According to Moderna’s CEO, Stephane Bancel, the company should have enough data from its clinical trials by November to know whether its coronavirus vaccine works.

Earlier this week, Canada increased its option and confirmed an order of 20 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine candidate. They are on track to deliver up to 56 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine beginning 2021.

3. Sinovac’s CoronaVac Vaccine

What is the CoronaVac Vaccine?

CoronaVac is a vaccine of the inactivated type, being developed by Sinovac Pharmaceuticals. This means that the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is harvested in bulk, and then killed/inactivated so it can no longer cause any disease — an “old school tried-and-tested” method in the science of vaccine development. The inactivated version of the virus is then injected into our body to raise a robust immune response. For more on this vaccine and how it works, check out our blog post here.

Latest Update

Sinovac’s CoronaVac is one of four promising vaccines being developed by China. This vaccine is is used to inject inactivated/dead viral particles in two shots which are administered two to four weeks apart.

In previous weeks, the vaccine has shown to be well-tolerated, safe and effective in 30,000 volunteers that have received the jab so far. This week, scientists are seriously considering whether China might be the first to develop an effective vaccine against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

Phase I/II results in adults and elderly volunteers showed robust immune response in higher than 90% of all participants. That being said, official results of Phase 3 clinical trial results are awaited.

4. Cansino’s Ad5-nCoV

What is Cansino’s Ad5-nCoV vaccine?

Cansino’s vaccine, like the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine, uses a replication-defective adenovirus viral vector carrying vital information about the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which is vital in causing COVID-19 infection.

Latest Update

Phase 3 trials on Cansino’s Ad5-nCoV are currently underway in multiple countries globally, including Pakistan and Russia. Please note that scientists have raised concerns that the effectiveness of Cansino’s Ad5-nCoV vaccine may be limited since it uses a common cold virus as a vector. Safety concerns have not been raised.

5. Unnamed Inactive Vaccine – Wuhan

What is the inactive vaccine from Wuhan?

The Wuhan Institute of Biological Products developed an inactivated vaccine, created by first harvesting the viral particles and then inactivating them using heat or chemicals. For this reason, the vaccine is similar to the CoronaVac vaccine listed above.

Latest Update

There have been no new updates on this vaccine this week. For last week’s update, check out our post here.

6. Sinopharm’s BBIBP-CorV

What is Sinopharm’s BBIBP-CorV?

Sinopharm’s BBIBP-CorV again, like Sinovac’s CoronaVac and Wuhan’s unnamed vaccine candidate, is a vaccine of the inactivated type. Upon vaccination, our body is able to generate a diverse immune response against the virus, to protect against future infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Latest Update

There have been no new updates on this vaccine this week. For last week’s update, check out our post here.

7. Pfizer and BioNTech’s BNT162b2

What is Pfizer and BioNTech’s BNT162 Vaccine?

Pfizer and BioNTech have collaborated with Chinese drug maker Fosun Pharma to develop an mRNA vaccine, much like the vaccine in development by Moderna. The messenger RNA in this vaccine is a pre-fusion stabilised membrane-anchored SARS-CoV-2 full-length spike protein. For a jargon-free article on how this vaccine works, check out our post here.

Latest Update

Phase III trials on this vaccine are currently ongoing and recruit 44,000 people. According to the CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, the vaccine may be ready as early as late October. There has been recent talk about the FDA considering Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) for this vaccine. This differs from the usual FDA approval route and has comparatively lower standards.

Other than the above, there has been no update on the Pfizer vaccine this week. To learn about the latest on this vaccine, check out our previous newsletter here.

8. The Russian Gam-COVID-Vac

What is the Gam-COVID-Vac?

The Gam-COVID-Vac, or the Sputnik V, is a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute (Russia).

Latest Update

The vaccine has entered Phase III trials with an enrolment of 40,000 participants in Russia. There have been no new updates on this vaccine this week. For last week’s update, check out our post here.

9. Novavax’s NVX-CoV2373

What is Novavax’s NVX-CoV2373?

The NVX-CoV2373 is the COVID-19 candidate vaccine in development by Novavax. It too uses an old “tried-and-tested” method, which looks promising. The vaccine is a protein subunit type of vaccine — this essentially means that Novavax produces the spike proteins (which are vital for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to cause COVID-19 infection) are produced in bulk and then purified. The purified spike proteins are then used to provoke an immune response in our bodies, which will help us fight off any COVID-19 infection in the future. For a complete run-down of how this vaccine works and how it’s made, check out our previous post on the vaccine here.

Latest Update

Novavax’s vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373 has only this week started phase 3 clinical trials. The company has received $1.6 billion in funding from Operation Warp Speed to develop and distribute 100 million vaccines to the United States as early as the end of 2020. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) too invested $388 million into the COVID-19 vaccine candidate being developed by Novavax.

Phase 3 clinical trials have begun in the United Kingdom and are due to begin in the United States in October. The study has enrolled 10,000 people in the UK and is expected to enrol up to 30,000 people. Novavax has also secured a deal with the Serum Institute of India to produce as many as two billion of their vaccines a year.

10. Johnson & Johnson’s JNJ-78436735/Ad26.CoV2-S

What is Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 Vaccine?

Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical arm, Janssen, has developed another adenovirus-based vaccine against COVID-19 (JNJ-78436735/Ad26.CoV2-S). This vaccine too uses an adenovirus vector that expresses the viral spike protein normally found on the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19). The adenovirus vector cannot multiply (as it normally would in disease) as essential genes required for multiplication are deleted. Upon vaccination, the individual will produce an immune response against the adenovirus AND the spike protein — thereby protecting us from COVID-19 infection in the future.

Latest Update

Earlier this week, J&J announced the start of their Phase 3 clinical trials for their investigational COVID-19 vaccine, JNJ-78436735, also known as Ad26.CoV2-S. This trial (called the ENSEMBLE trial) will enrol up to 60,000 volunteers across three continents.

The company anticipates the first batch of their COVID-19 vaccine will be available for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in early 2021 if phase 3 trials show good safety and efficacy. Provided the vaccine is safe and effective, J&J is committed to the goal of supplying more than 1 billion doses of their vaccine globally through the course of 2021.

11. Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s BCG Vaccine Trial

What is Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Doing?

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute is conducting research to check if the BCG vaccine (used as protection against tuberculosis) also protects from the COVID-19 causing novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The BCG vaccine was invented in the 1900s and is used to this day for the prevention of tuberculosis (TB). Phase 3 trials using this vaccine are currently ongoing.

Why Use A BCG Vaccine?

Evidence suggested that the BCG vaccine protected not only against TB but also may protect from viral illnesses, respiratory infections and sepsis. There is also talk that the BCG vaccine may bolster the body’s immune system.

Latest Update

Phase 3 clinical trial results for this vaccine are still to be declared. We will keep you up to date with regards to any updates on this vaccine, or any other COVID-19 vaccine in late stage development.

That is all for this week. If this newsletter is of interest to you, and you haven’t subscribed yet, do not forget to subscribe below.

For weekly updates on the COVID-19 therapeutics, please do not forget to subscribe using the form below:

Success! You're on the list.

2 Replies to “[Newsletter] Round-Up of COVID-19 Vaccine Updates: Week Commencing September 21, 2020”

  1. It’s nice to have a complete birds eye view of all the vaccines being developed. I was not even aware about certain facts you have highlighted such as the BCG vaccine. Thanks


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