[Newsletter] Round-Up of COVID-19 Vaccine Updates: Week Commencing October 12, 2020

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

Struggling to keep up with the goings-on of the COVID-19 vaccines?! 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

In September, the Oxford clinical trials were paused due to a suspected adverse reaction. The trials have since resumed worldwide, but not in the U.S. 

Earlier this week, BBC News reported that the most vulnerable people in the UK could receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca ChAdOx nCoV-19 vaccine “by Christmas”. 

Earlier this week, the Times of India has suggested that the Oxford vaccine results will be out by end November-early December.

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

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 has confirmed that “as of Friday, October 16, 2020, 29,521 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 “36% of participants enrolled cumulatively are from diverse communities.”

24,496 participants have received their second dose of the vaccination and will undergo observation should any problems with safety and efficacy be identified.

On October 13, Moderna announced that they have initiated a rolling submission to Health Canada for their mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

On October 14, they announced that they have received confirmation of eligibility for submission of a Marketing Authorization Application to the European Medicines Agency for mRNA-1273.

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.

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 used to inject inactivated/dead viral particles in two shots which are administered two to four weeks apart.

Reuters have recently reported that the Chinese government has been offering Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac to essential workers and high-risk groups for about $60 as part of a national program.

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

In previous newsletters, we have noted that scientists raised efficacy concerns on Cansino’s Ad5-nCoV vaccine, although no safety concerns were raised. There have been no new updates on this vaccine this week.

5. Unnamed Inactive Vaccine – Wuhan

What is The Inactive Virus 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

According to the CEO of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, the vaccine may be ready as early as late October. On Friday, Bourla confirmed that the company will not be applying for Emergency Use Authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine before the third week of November, ruling out a vaccine before America’s 2020 election day (03 November 2020). 

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

There have been no new updates on this vaccine this week. For the latest updates on this vaccine, 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

Last week, we reported that 10,000 people in the UK had been enrolled to test out Novavax’s vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373. This week, the company has called for more people from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds and volunteers over the age of 65 to enrol in their COVID-19 vaccine trial through the NHS Vaccine Registry. 

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’s COVID-19 vaccine trial for JNJ-78436735, also known as Ad26.CoV2-S was put on standby due to “an unexplained illness in a study participant” as reported by STAT News. The exact details of this illness are still currently unknown. 

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.

Latest Update

There have been no new updates on the Murdock Children’s Research Institute’s BCG vaccine trials. For the latest updates, check out our previous newsletter here.

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