Several countries across the world are witnessing a surge in their daily coronavirus disease (Covid-19) tally as the winter season is approaching. Lockdowns, aggressive testing, timely provision of drugs or medicines are some of the ways in which governments are trying to avoid the recurrence of another spread of the viral disease, which has infected nearly 46 million people and killed 1,193,744.
Another crucial factor that governments are taking into consideration to successfully combat Covid-19 is the development of a vaccine. Several companies and organisations, either independently or in collaboration with government authorities, have come up with vaccines which are undergoing a testing and approval process. They are yet to complete the several stages of trials. China, which has been the origin of Covid-19 and has been criticised by many for not revealing the spread of the disease on time, has also stepped up its vaccine research and production.
Here are the latest developments of the Covid-19 vaccine:
1. American medical device company Johnson & Johnson has planned to start its experimental vaccine in children falling under the age group of 12-18. The company in a statement said that it is currently in discussions with regulators and partners regarding the inclusion of the paediatric population in its vaccine trials. It also plans to include even younger children in its trials afterwards.
2. Another American company in the vaccine race, Novavax Inc, has outlined specific diversity targets for its large-scale vaccine study which is expected to start next month in the United States and Mexico. The company at a meeting of advisers to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that it plans to include 10% to 20% Latinos, 15% Black or African Americans and 2% Native Americans in its study.
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3. In India, the Union health ministry has urged states and union territories (UTs) to set up committees in order to monitor and coordinate vaccination at ground level while ensuring that there are minute interruptions in other health care services. Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan in a letter to states and Union territories said the committees will coordinate cold chain augmentation, capacity building activities of vaccinators and field staff if required.
4. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is likely to submit a proposal to its ethics committee in order to start the Phase 3 trial Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate in Delhi. Last week, Bharat Biotech got an approval from the drugs controller general of India (DGCI) to conduct phase 3 clinical trials of its vaccine candidate named Covaxin and AIIMS Delhi is one of the sites which has been selected for carrying out trials across India.
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5. The United Kingdom’s drug regulator has started accelerating reviews of Covid-19 vaccines under development from Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc, as it gets ready to approve the first successful shot at the earliest. Pfizer and AstraZeneca are among the front runners that could have shots cleared for use this year.
(With agency inputs)