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Top US doctor cautiously optimistic over COVID vaccine

By Yoshita Singh
July 09, 2020 11:38 IST
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America's top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has said that he is cautiously optimistic over the results from the current clinical trials and the possibility of developing a vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of this year or early next year.



Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director, said that the coronavirus will likely to continue to emerge, and global collaboration and transparency are critical to deal with the future pandemics.

"The lessons we've learned from the coronavirus is they have pandemic potential, they're likely to continue to emerge. Good public health measures are critical to controlling them.

 

"Global collaboration and transparency are critical if we are to get a containment of this extraordinary assault on the human population, a viral disease that spreads rapidly and as a high degree of morbidity and mortality," he said in his recorded remarks during an online session on 'Confronting COVID-19 Through Innovation and Research: Lessons Learned from the Pandemic'.

The event is part of a series of online dialogue by the United Nations Academic Impact dubbed '75 for UN75: 75 Minutes of Conversation' that brings together academics, researchers and students from around the world.

Giving an overview of the pandemic and efforts to develop a vaccine, Fauci said: "We've adapted a strategic approach to get multiple candidates and there are more than one candidate vaccine to be conducted in trials in a harmonised way so that we use standard endpoints, standard and single data and safety monitoring board as well as identical immunological parameters that are measured, so that you could bridge one study to another."

There are a number of vaccine candidates already in clinical trial and a few out of those candidates have completed phase 1/2 status, he said, adding that there are trials that will be going into phase three sometime at the end of July and then others will follow in the months of August, September and October.

Fauci said "hopefully we'll be able to get some information, such as with this particular one representative vaccine that we started here in January. Phase one looks good, very promising data on the induction of neutralising antibody and will go into trial at the end of July".

There are 5-7 candidates that are going into clinical trials at different stages, he said.

The Moderna coronavirus vaccine is showing promising results, "which makes me cautiously optimistic. Although you can never, ever predict with any certainty, whether a vaccine is going to be safe and effective.

"The early data on these trials have a cautious optimism that we will be successful at least in developing a vaccine with some degree of efficacy by the end of the year, beginning of 2021," he said.

Moderna said that it has completed enrollment of Phase 2 Study of its mRNA vaccine against COVID-19, adding that it has finalised the Phase 3 study protocol based on the feedback from the US Food and Drug Administration.

The randomised, 1:1 placebo-controlled trial is expected to include approximately 30,000 participants and is expected to be conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, subject to regulatory approval.

Moderna has completed the manufacture of vaccine required to start the Phase 3 study and the company remains on track to be able to deliver approximately 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year beginning in 2021 from the company's internal US manufacturing site and strategic collaborations, the biotechnology company added.

According to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the contagion has infected over 12 million people and killed more than 549,000 across the world.

The US is the worst affected country with over 3 million cases and more than 1,32,000 deaths.

The COVID-19, which originated in China's Wuhan city in December last year, has also battered the world economy with the International Monetary Fund saying that the global economy is bound to suffer a "severe recession".

Scientists are racing against time to find a vaccine or medicine for its treatment.

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Yoshita Singh
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