U.S. drugmaker Merck on Tuesday said it plans to work alongside nonprofit scientific research organization IAVI to develop a potential vaccine against the coronavirus.The announcement comes as drugmakers pause other clinical trials and scramble to find an antidote for Covid-19, which has infected more than 5.5 million people worldwide and killed over 346,000.Most experts agree could take 12 to 18 months to roll out a safe vaccine to the market. And, even if an effective vaccine becomes available, many have warned of significant logistical challenges around distributing enough doses for the global population.
In a statement, Merck and IAVI said their vaccine candidate would use the recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus technology that is the basis for its Ebola Zaire virus vaccine — which was the first rVSV vaccine approved for use in humans.Ebola Zaire is one of six known species within the genus Ebola virus, an acute deadly illness. The virus causing the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the 2014 to 2016 West African outbreak, belongs to the Ebola Zaire virus species, according to the World Health Organization.Designed and engineered by IAVI scientists in New York, the vaccine candidate for Covid-19 is in preclinical development. Clinical studies are expected to start this year.
Novavax Initiates Phase 1/2 Clinical Trial of COVID-19 Vaccine
Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX), a late-stage biotechnology company developing next-generation vaccines for serious infectious diseases, today announced enrollment of the first participants in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, NVX‑CoV2373, a stable, prefusion protein made using its proprietary nanoparticle technology. The Phase 1/2 clinical trial is being conducted in two parts. The Phase 1 portion is a randomized, observer-blinded, placebo-controlled trial designed to evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of NVX‑CoV2373, both adjuvanted with Matrix‑M and unadjuvanted. The trial is enrolling approximately 130 healthy participants 18 to 59 years of age at two sites in Australia. The protocol’s two-dose trial regimen assesses two dose sizes (5 and 25 micrograms) with Matrix‑M and without.
The Phase 2 portion is expected to be conducted in multiple countries, including the United States, and would assess immunity, safety and COVID‑19 disease reduction in a broader age range. This Phase 1/2 approach allows for rapid advancement of NVX‑CoV2373 during the pandemic. The trial is being supported by the recently announced funding arrangement with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
Coronavirus: Immune Clue Sparks Treatment Hope
UK scientists are to begin testing a treatment that it is hoped could counter the effects of Covid-19 in the most seriously ill patients.It has been found those with the most severe form of the disease have extremely low numbers of an immune cell called a T-cell.T-cells clear infection from the body.The clinical trial will evaluate if a drug called interleukin 7, known to boost T-cell numbers, can aid patients’ recovery.
The researchers say these findings pave the way for them to develop a “fingerprint test” to check the levels of T-cells in the blood which could provide early indications of who might go on to develop more severe disease.It also provides the possibility for a specific treatment to reverse that immune cell decline.