UK Scientists Launch A Clinical Trial of BCG Vaccine; FedEx Getting Ready for Distribution Challenge

  • October 13, 2020 10:45 AM BST
  • Team Kalkine
UK Scientists Launch A Clinical Trial of BCG Vaccine; FedEx Getting Ready for Distribution Challenge


  • Amidst the ongoing development of various Coronavirus vaccines globally, a clinical trial of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine has been launched by the scientists in the United Kingdom to know if it can be used for Covid-19 treatment
  • The global freight industry is collecting every bit of information to prepare themselves for distributing the vaccine
  • FedEx, an American delivery service provider, based in Memphis, is working closely on plans of delivering the Covid-19 vaccines. It has recently launched SenseAware ID, which provides enhanced package visibility for shipments

The coronavirus infection continues to multiply every day, and most of the world's population is still vulnerable to it. A vaccine would help people recover and provide some protection by strengthening the immune systems of the people to fight the virus so they should not fell prey to it.

Amidst the ongoing development  of various vaccines globally, a clinical trial of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine has been launched by scientists in the United Kingdom to study whether BCG can be used to protect the population against the Covid-19.

On 11 October 2020, an announcement was made regarding the UK arm of the trial being led by the University of Exeter, known as the BCG vaccination, to reduce the impact of Covid-19 in healthcare workers' (BRACE) trial. The Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) in Melbourne, Australia, will be coordinating the BRACE trial. The trial was initially launched in Australia in April 2020 and is also being carried out in the Netherlands, Spain, and Brazil as well as South Africa.

BCG vaccine is used for protecting people against Tuberculosis (TB). However, it has been found in previous studies that it also stimulates broader immune responses against severe infections and respiratory diseases. The vaccine will prove to be a game-changer globally, according to Prof John Campbell at the University of Exeter Medical School, if it helps in preventing people from falling ill with the virus and transmitting it on to others.

For the trial, there will be a recruitment of more than 10,000 healthcare staff from across the world. For the UK arm of the international Brace trial, researchers at Exeter University intend to enrol up to 1,000 community healthcare workers, especially from care homes and GP surgeries, which will include nurses, caterers, and administration staff. The candidates participating in the study will be given either the BCG vaccine or a placebo injection.


When Will, an Antidote Against SARS-CoV-2 Be Available for Masses?


The world is in urgent need of a vaccine to curb the transmission of the Covid-19 infection. There is a total of 182 vaccine candidates in pre-clinical phases across the world, out of which 36 are in clinical trials, and 9 are in the final stage of human trials. We might get to hear the news of the availability of vaccine soon as some of the coronavirus vaccine candidates are nearing the end of late-stage clinical trials.

Two of the drug-makers, Pfizer (BioNTech's BNT162) and Moderna (mRNA-1273) Inc are all set to release their late-stage and Phase 2 results by the end of October 2020. Experts suggest that vaccines might reach the public in March-April 2021. Moderna Inc is looking for the emergency-use authorisation route to launch their shots by the end of 2020.

Reports suggest that Pfizer is likely to file for US FDA approval of its vaccine this month only. Though the full roll-out programme could take six months, pharmaceutical giant Astrazeneca PLC (LON: AZN) could get the required clearances for the Oxford University vaccine candidate (AZD1222) by Christmas in the UK. Johnson and Johnson is expected to submit the results of its phase III trial by the end of 2020 or early 2021.

Also Read: Why are AstraZeneca and Pfizer Share Price Under Investors’ Radar?

On the one hand, the pharmaceutical companies and vaccine manufacturers are working day in and day out at their labs to develop the vaccine. On the other, the global freight industry is collecting every bit of information to prepare themselves for one of the biggest and never-seen challenges of distributing vaccines to the billions of populations of the world.

FedEx To Play A Pivotal Role in The Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution


FedEx, an American delivery service provider, based in Memphis, is working closely as a part of Operation Wrap Speed on plans of delivering the Covid-19 vaccine. As per the CEO Don Colleran, FedEx has been in talks for months with major health care manufacturers, customers, and government agencies regarding the Covid-19 vaccine distribution.

Earlier this year, FedEx Express was a part of a federal government-managed public-private partnership called Project Airbridge, which played a vital role in speeding up shipments of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential supplies. The global shipping network of FedEx gives it the privilege to take up the ambitious task.

Why FedEx?


In its recent earnings call, FedEx has identified critical attributes needed for vaccine distribution. FedEx believes that in order to take up the complex task of vaccine distribution, it has the network, the technology and the solutions required. Having more than 90 cold chain facilities across the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe, the company plans to open additional facilities in the coming years.

The recent launch of FedEx’s SenseAware ID, helps the company in providing enhanced package visibility for shipments using a compact sensor that transmits location every two seconds. It is the latest and next-generation sensor-based proprietary FedEx technology. FedEx is looking to deploy this innovative technology for safe anticipated vaccine distribution programme and the continued movement of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

Challenges Involved in the Distribution Process of Vaccines


Because of their high sensitivity to excessive vibration and changes in temperature (two common occurrences during transit), vaccines present a real logistical challenge. Most of the leading Covid-19 vaccines which are under development are required to be kept at temperatures as low as -80 °C from the moment they are bottled to the time they are ready to be injected into a patient.


People all around the world are expecting at least one of the many potential Covid-19 vaccines to pass the safety tests of the global healthcare watchdogs by the end of 2020 and be ready for distribution. The distribution also plays a key role as vaccines might be manufactured in one continent and shipped to another. 


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