COVID-19: Life won't return to normal for at least two years, expert warns, saying pandemic 'isn't over until it's over globally'Read Now
The coronavirus pandemic will not be over and restrictions lifted until it has been tackled worldwide, Sky News is told.
Life globally will not return to normal for two or three years based on the rate of the current vaccination rollout, it has been warned - but there are early signs jabs are reducing cases in the UK.
Speaking to Sky News, Dr Clare Wenham, assistant professor of global health policy at London School of Economics, said the COVID-19 pandemic will not be over until the world's population is protected.
"At the moment, the data is showing it's going to be 2023/24 before the global vaccines are distributed to everybody," she said.
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Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin is a broad spectrum “buffet” vaccine that will work against all Covid-19 mutations as compared to the other “a la carte” vaccines that will need tweaks, a top Indian virologist said.
Speaking to ThePrint in a telephonic interview, Dr V. Ravi, former dean, basic sciences, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), said the Covaxin platform will be effective against all the mutations as it “will produce a broad immune response where one or the other antibody produced will eventually catch the virus”.
“The vaccine is a wholly inactivated virus — that is an entire dead virus whereas other vaccines use some part of the virus. The experience shows that the platform of killed or inactivated viruses have higher chances of generating immune response even when the virus mutates,” said Ravi, who is the nodal officer for genetic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 virus in Karnataka.
According to him, all the “other platforms, which use either subunits (of the virus) or viral vectors but not the whole virus, such as Pfizer, Moderna, Sputnik, AstraZeneca-University of Oxford, won’t work against the mutated virus and may need tweaking”.
In simpler terms, the Covaxin platform is “like a buffet which produces a variety of antibodies in the human body whereas, the subunit vaccines are like a la carte, where the body produces antibody response for only one or two proteins”, he said.
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As slow as the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has been in the United States, some estimates say billions of people around the world won't be vaccinated for COVID-19 until 2022 or 2023.
Bloomberg has been publishing a map that shows the level of vaccine distribution in different countries and virtually the entire continent of Africa — more than 50 nations — is blank.
"In Africa, we don't have the resources. It's as simple as that," Sirleaf says "Unless vaccine is seen as a free good on the basis that until everyone is safe, no one is safe — when it's seen in that context, then perhaps the wealthier nations of the world will come up with a formula that says, how can we share the vaccine with those countries that are under resourced?"
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'There are two significant advantages with these inactivated vaccines that should greatly impact our vaccine distribution program in the Philippines'
Over the past two months, we have learned that 3 COVID-19 vaccines developed in the West have successfully passed their Phase 3 clinical trials. Both of the vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer had an efficacy of around 95%, while the vaccine from AstraZeneca (AZ) had an efficacy of 62% with the standard dosing schedule that received an emergency authorization in the United Kingdom.
We have now learned that the two Chinese vaccines developed by Sinopharm and Sinovac have also passed their Phase 3 clinical trials, with an efficacy of 79% and 78%, respectively. However, details from these trials still remain unpublished at this time. (READ: China's Sinopharm says vaccine 79% effective vs coronavirus)
The two vaccines developed in China belong to a new class of COVID-19 vaccines. Both are vaccines incorporating inactivated viruses, where the intact SARS-CoV2 virus that causes COVID-19 is killed and mixed with chemicals that stimulate an immune response. The Sinopharm vaccine was tested in 60,000 volunteers from 125 countries, while the Sinovac vaccine was trialed with 12,476 individuals from Brazil. Both vaccines prevented participants from developing severe disease with complications that would hospitalize them. There were no severe side effects with either vaccine.
There are two significant advantages with these inactivated vaccines that should greatly impact our vaccine distribution program in the Philippines.
First, these vaccines can be stored in a standard refrigerator at temperatures of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, and can remain stable for up to 3 years. This would make distribution of these vaccines in the Philippines substantially cheaper and easier as compared to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require a supercold or an ultracold chain with freezers at temperatures of -70 to -80 degrees Celsius.
Second, in principle, these inactivated vaccines should be more resilient and should be more effective against any and all SARS-CoV2 variants than the Western vaccines. Why? The Pfizer, Moderna, and AZ vaccines are composed of one part of the virus called the Spike protein. The most significant mutations in the SARS-CoV2 variants change this Spike protein, making these variants more able to escape the Western vaccines. Just a few days ago, there was a worrisome report that the South African 501.V2 variant lowers the effectiveness of antibody-based drugs against COVID-19, suggesting that this variant will lower the efficacy of the Western COVID-19 vaccines.
In contrast, these Chinese vaccines introduce the entire inactivated virus into vaccinated individuals. Novel virus variants of SARS-CoV2 would have to change everything about themselves to escape these inactivated vaccines. The probability of this happening is vanishingly small. Therefore, these vaccines would be valuable weapons against COVID-19, especially in light of the growing concerns with the B117 variant from England and the 501.V2 variant from South Africa.
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NICANOR AUSTRIACO OP
Reverend Fr. Nicanor Austriaco is Visiting Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Santo Tomas, and an OCTA Research Fellow.
Coronavirus | A vaccine is a vaccine... regulators never approve a backup, says virologist Shahid JameelRead Now
Shahid Jameel, Virologist, and Director, Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University said different concerns existed regarding both approved vaccines in India adding that it was premature to assume they would be useful against the 'UK strain'.
We've seen two Indian vaccines approved. Covishield by Serum Insitute of India has submitted — but not published — any data on its Indian trial. Bharat Biotech has published safety and immunogenicity data (preprint) for Covaxin but hasn't generated the all important efficacy data. Do you think the regulator has made a judicious call in approving both?
As more details trickle out, it appears that the fear of a second wave, propelled by more contagious viruses of the B.1.1.7 lineage (popularly called UK variant), weighed heavily on the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) and the regulatory committees. Since what was presented by the companies to them is not available in the public domain, it is hard to second guess.
Could you explain the relative merits of a DNA vaccine, RNA vaccine vs the tried and tested inactivated virus-platforms? Are the latter vestigial technology like typewriters? Are the new kinds of vaccines inherently easier to make or more effective?
I would not call inactivated viral vaccines as vestigial. Most effective vaccines in use today belong to that category. The inherent difficulty with this platform is that it requires viruses to be grown to high titres. That is often difficult and sometimes not possible. Take for example the hepatitis E virus on which I worked for three decades. It grows very poorly in culture and thus no inactivated vaccine has been possible.
Nucleic acid vaccines are a new platform and would be used for the first time with Covid vaccines. So far the results for mRNA vaccines look good and DNA vaccines are yet to be tested. But the long term safety for both is yet to be established. These would be platforms for the future simply because it is much easier to manufacture RNA and DNA than proteins. Viral protein antigens are best made by the body to ensure proper conformation and structure, which is often not possible in vitro. DNA, RNA and viral vectors (eg adenoviruses) use the cell’s machinery to make viral protein antigens.
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China’s shot also gives 100% protection against severe cases of the disease, raising hopes it can be widely used in the developing world
China’s Sinovac vaccine has shown to be 78% effective against Covid-19 in Brazilian late-stage trials and offers total protection against severe cases of the disease, raising hopes it can be used to immunize much of the developing world.
Brazil’s Butantan Institute, the São Paulo-based research center that tested CoronaVac in Phase 3 trials, said Thursday that none of the volunteers who took the vaccine developed severe cases of Covid-19. More than 12,000 health workers took part in Phase 3 trials in Brazil, the first country to complete tests of Sinovac’s vaccine.
“It’s a great result,” said Luiz Carlos Dias, part of a Covid-19 task force of researchers at the University of Campinas in São Paulo state. “If it can prevent severe cases, hospitalizations, deaths, it will help get us out of this pandemic.”
CoronaVac’s vaccine is less effective then those being developed by Moderna Inc. and jointly by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE that have shown to have efficacy rates of 94.5% and 95% in testing, respectively. But CoronaVac can be kept in a standard refrigerator between about 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit, making it easier and cheaper to transport and store in less developed countries, infectious disease specialists said.
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By Samantha Pearson and Luciana Magalhaes in São Paulo and Chao Deng in Taipei
Refana Inc., is United States registered private corporation dedicated to finding practical and innovative solutions to the world's medical problems. By utilizing a highly collaborative open source system of research and development Refana has been able to attract world leaders in their respective scientific and medical fields to work on these problems. Through this model Refana hopes to greatly accelerate the vaccine development process for Covid-19 and help protect not only the health of the world, but also the economies and stability of nations at risk.