Globally, scientists are racing to develop a vaccine or a treatment for the infectious disease, novel coronavirus or COVID-19, as the entire world is now grappling with its wrath. According to data provided by WHO, there were 3,557,235 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 245,150 deaths, as at 10:00 AM CEST on 6 May 2020.
What is the Second Wave of COVID-19?
As of now, almost everyone knows that pandemics are caused by pathogens like bacteria and viruses, and the human body invariably has no immunity against pathogens.
According to some studies, a mutant coronavirus has emerged that seems to be more dangerous. Meanwhile, scientists in the United States have also warned about the emergence of a mutant of the virus, that is a more contagious strain of coronavirus. In addition to propagating more rapidly, this strain may make people vulnerable to a second infection after a first attack with the disease.
As many nations reported a peak in the number of new cases of coronavirus infection, some health experts have warned of a potential second wave of infection unless rapid testing is expanded. While scientists worldwide are trying their best to develop a vaccine/treatment for preventing COVID-19, governments in many nations are looking to halt the speedy drop in the economy by easing lockdown restrictions in phases.
In such a situation, when the number of COVID-19 cases has been increasing without any reduction in intensity, and suitable preventive and therapeutic solutions to the infection are yet to be discovered, a second wave of COVID-19 could come out to be terrifying.
Meanwhile, WHO has stated that the second wave of the pandemic is in our hands, highlighting that COVID-19 is a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and its behaviour is still yet unknown.
Let us acquaint you with few of the recent vaccine developments.
Israel Identifies Monoclonal Antibody Against SARS-CoV-2
In Israel, some scientists have discovered a key antibody for preventing COVID-19 that ‘attacks and neutralises’ the virus in patient’s body. Defense Minister of Israel, Naftali Bennett has stated about the achievement of a substantial breakthrough by the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) in identifying an antibody for preventing the dreadful virus.
The ?three key parameters of the scientific breakthrough by IIBR include
On the basis of comprehensive scientific publications from all over the world, it seems that the Israel Institute for Biological Research is the first institution to achieve a scientific breakthrough that meets all the 3 parameters mentioned above, at the same time. This is an outcome of the excellent expertise and unique capabilities of the institute researchers.
As per information provided in the Statement of Ministry of Defense on behalf of the IIBR, currently, the institute is pursuing a patent for its vaccine development, after which it will contact international manufactures for the commercial development of vaccine.
Moreover, if the antibody continues to demonstrate promising results as a cure for COVID-19, the institute will create a considerable impact across the nations that are most affected, particularly the hardest-hit European countries.
Pfizer and BioNTech Commence Coronavirus Vaccine Trial in the US
Pfizer and BioNTech have announced to have commenced the Phase 1/2 clinical study for the BNT162 vaccine program against COVID-19, and the first participants have been dosed in the United States. Part of a global development program, this study is targeted towards determining immunogenicity, safety and optimum dose level for mRNA vaccine candidates. All these candidates will be assessed in a single, continuous trial.
Overview of Two Healthcare companies-
American multinational pharmaceutical company, Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) is engaged in the development and manufacturing of medical products, including innovative medicines and vaccines.
Germany-based next-generation immunotherapy company, BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) is pioneering innovative therapies for melanoma and other severe diseases. Based on the profound capability of BioNTech in development of mRNA vaccine as well as in-house production capabilities, the company with its partnerships, is developing several mRNA vaccine candidates for a variety of infectious diseases.
Clinical Developmental Program for COVID-19 Vaccine
The program comprises of 4 different vaccine candidates (mRNA), with each representing a different combination of mRNA format and target antigen. The innovative trial design permits for evaluating several mRNA vaccine candidates at the same time, with the intention of finding safest as well as a potentially most effective vaccine in a larger number of volunteers, in a way that will enable the sharing of information with regulatory authorities in real-time.
Throughout the stage of clinical development, BioNTech will address the vaccine clinical supply from its European manufacturing sites that are GMP-certified.
In expectation of a successful clinical development program, both companies are working to increase the production of vaccine to supply across the world. Pfizer intends to activate its massive production network and invest at risk in an attempt for manufacturing an approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19 as soon as possible for those who are in more need around the world. The breadth of this clinical developmental program should make available millions of vaccine doses in 2020 with manufacturing capacity increasing to hundreds of millions of vaccines in 2021.
Moreover, Pfizer-owned three sites in the United States and Belgium have been recognised as manufacturing facilities for vaccine production, with additional locations to be nominated.
BioNTech, via its current mRNA production sites in Germany intends to increase its vaccine manufacturing capacity for providing further facilities to supply the potential vaccine.
On 5 May 2020, Pfizer shares on NYSE rose by 2.37% to close the day’s trade at USD 38.51 and shares of BioNTech on NASDAQ climbed by 9.22% to close the trading at UDS 50.00.
Scientists Claim Italy's Vaccine Neutralises Coronavirus in Human Cells
According to some market reports, a study conducted at Rome's Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases demonstrated that a potential vaccine generated antibodies in mice which work on human cells too. Human tests for this vaccine are anticipated to begin in the upcoming months.
The vaccine candidates currently being developed are based on the genetic material of DNA protein "spike” and uses the "electroporation" technique to help them break into the cells and activate the immune system.
Moreover, researchers deem that this makes their vaccine especially effective for generating functional antibodies against "spike" protein in the lung cells, most vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director, Anthony Fauci has stated that it would take a minimum time period of around 12-18 months to have a vaccine for COVID-19.
Considering the speedy efforts towards finding and developing a vaccine against COVID-19 on a global level, it can be said that the vaccine is not so far, as scientists across many countries are working hard with some of the candidates showing positive response in animal testing as well. Researchers are waiting to observe same results during human clinical trials. However, according to several experts and regulatory authorities, it is likely to take a minimum of 12 to 18 months for the development of a potential vaccine for COVID-19.
In the meantime, let us keep our faith in all the positive developments towards finding a COVID-19 treatment.