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Covid-19 pandemic: Vaccine frontrunners and other latest developments – coronavirus crisis

The global pandemic continues to break records as the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed as many as 660,905 new infections worldwide in one day (on Saturday). As per John Hopkins University, the worldwide number of infections stands at 54,299,446 while 1,315,897 people have succumbed to the disease.

Across the world, efforts are on to find a vaccine to stop the spread of the disease. According to WHO, more than 150 Covid-19 vaccine candidates from various pharmaceutical companies are presently in development, with around 44 in clinical trials and 11 undergoing late-stage testing.

Here’s all you need to know about the vaccine frontrunners:

Pfizer and BioNTech

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said last week that preliminary analysis showed their vaccine could prevent more than 90 per cent of people from getting Covid-19 in the phase III trials in which 43,000 people took part. Prof Ugur Sahin, co-founder and CEO of BioNTech, told the BBC that the goal was to deliver more than 300 million doses worldwide by next April, which “could allow us to only start to make an impact”.

Moderna Inc.

US drugmaker Moderna Inc is likely to release first interim analysis data on late-stage trials of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate. Moderna Inc recently said preliminary data of its Phase III mRNA-1273 vaccine trials was being prepared for submission to the monitoring board, raising hopes that initial results would be released soon. In the trial 43,538 people participated. The company has also announced that it would seek emergency-use authorisation for its vaccine candidate in high-risk groups if interim assessment showed it to be atleast 70 per cent effective. The firm is eyeing to produce 20 million doses of its experimental vaccine by the end of the year.

AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus vaccine

Serum Institute of India, which is conducting Phase 2/3 trials of the Oxford University vaccine called Covishield said it was aiming to produce 100 million doses by December. Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla said the Pune-based firm might get emergency-use authorization by December if late-stage trial data showed that the vaccine candidate provided effective protection from the virus. He added that preliminary results have shown that there were no immediate concerns pertaining to the Covishield vaccine.

Read more | Delhi in battle mode to rein in Covid-19 wave

Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine

Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine, developed by the Gamaleya National Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, has arrived in India and trials will begin soon. In India, Dr Reddy’s will test the vaccine candidate on around 1,500 participants in a Phase 2/3 clinical trial across at least 10 sites as the vaccine was claimed to be 92 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 in a trial which included 16,000 participants.

Johnson and Johnson coronavirus vaccine

Johnson & Johnson had halted its trials in October over safety concerns but is now spending about $604 million in expanding its deal with the US government to develop its single-shot JNJ-78436735 vaccine. A vaccine from a unit of Johnson & Johnson is set to move to the third phase of clinical trials in the UK that will test the safety and effectiveness of the shot. The testing round by Janssen Pharmaceutical will include 6,000 volunteers and take place across 17 sites, according to a statement. The firm has said that first batches of its candidate could be available as soon as January.

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