The UK could pin its hopes on a new inactivated vaccine to help guard against variants of the coronavirus.
Nadhim Zahawi, the UK’s vaccine minister, said Valneva's shot could provide more varied protection against new strains.
French drug maker Valneva has the vaccine in development at its lab in Scotland. It expects results from its Phase I and II trials within weeks.
Speaking at the World Immunisation & Logistics Summit, a virtual event organised by the Hope Consortium in Abu Dhabi, Mr Zahawi said the country was working on “future proofing” its successful vaccination campaign, which has seen more than 30 million people receive their first shot.
Two vaccines will be important in what happens next, he said.
“We have announced a very important collaboration with CureVac, which is another messenger RNA technology company that will be manufactured in the UK at scale,” he said.
“And then we have the Valneva vaccine, which is from a French company and [is] being manufactured in Scotland for the end of the year, which will probably form our annual vaccination programme.
“It’s a whole inactivated virus vaccine, which the scientists have great hope for in terms of dealing with any variants.
“So we are looking to future-proof our vaccination programme against any virus variants that may emerge and share it with the world. So we have put 548 million through Covax,” he added.
Mr Zahawi said his government was working with drug makers "on the possibility of an autumn jab, a booster jab. Certainly for the most vulnerable communities. And then probably an annual vaccination".
Vaccine 'suitable for children'
The British government has already pre-purchased 60 million doses from Valneva for this year alone.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the company's lab in Livingston, Scotland, when commercial production began last month.
It is produced using a dead version of the virus, like Sinopharm, the most widely available vaccine in the UAE.
The vaccine is unlikely to be approved until the end of 2021, but it is seen as an ideal annual booster shot.
Valvena has suggested it may be suitable for children.
Some experts believe inactivated vaccines may be more effective against new mutations because they are made using the whole virus, offering protection against multiple areas.
The majority of the current crop of vaccines are designed to generate antibodies against the spike only, which the Sars-CoV-2 virus uses to enter cells.
Many of the most concerning mutations to have emerged in the virus in recent months have appeared in the spike, which has rendered the vaccines less effective.
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The COVID-19 vaccines that have been marketed in China have a neutralizing effect on some mutated viruses, including the ones found in the UK and South Africa, according to Sinopharm and Sinovac.
Sinopharm has been testing the antiviral mutation ability of vaccines already on the market in China, such as the inactivated vaccine developed by Sinopharm, to study whether the mutation of the virus would alter the efficacy of the vaccine, said Zhang Yuntao, vice president and chief scientist of China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a Sinopharm subsidiary, at a press conference on Sunday.
Two inactivated vaccines from Sinopharm have been used in a crossover trial on the strains found in South Africa and the UK as well as more than 10 strains found in different regions in China, using the serum after the phase II and III clinical trials in China and overseas, he said.
The results showed that the neutralizing antibodies produced by the two inactivated vaccines neutralized these strains well.
He also noted that Sinopharm is conducting neutralization trial monitoring on the strains found in Brazil and Zimbabwe.
China has administered more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Saturday, the National Health Commission announced at a press conference on Sunday. The country's global supply of COVID-19 vaccines also topped 100 million doses as of Friday.
The inactivated vaccine developed by Sinopharm has been used in 50 countries and regions around the world. Zhang said the population sample size and large scale fully demonstrate the broad spectrum effect of the inactivated vaccine.
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As one of the leading COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers in China, Sinovac has expanded its annual production capacity to 2 billion doses and offered its inactivated vaccines to over 16 countries and regions. The Global Times reporters Hu Yuwei and Leng Shumei (GT) recently talked to Yin Weidong (Yin), the CEO of the Sinovac, to learn more about his views on vaccine's safety and effectiveness, amid frequently novel coronavirus mutations, and the company's moves in making the vaccine more globally accessible.
Read the interview here.
Early research shows that the inactivated COVID-19 vaccines produced by Sinopharm can provide protection against 10 mutated variants of SARS-CoV-2, including strains from the United Kingdom and South Africa, said Yu Qingming, Sinopharm's board chairman and a deputy to the National People's Congress.
Many employees of the company received the vaccines last March, and after a year of monitoring, their antibody level still remained relatively high, Yu told People's Daily on Thursday.
On Feb 25, the inactivated vaccine made by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, a Sinopharm affiliate, was granted conditional market approval. It is Sinopharm's second inactivated vaccine to be approved for market use, after the one developed by its subsidiary in Beijing.
"Over 5,000 deputies and members at this year's two sessions have been inoculated with Sinopharm's vaccines. This goes to show the strong trust people have in our vaccines," he said.
However, Yu stressed that as COVID-19 vaccines are a relatively new product, scientists still need more research to definitively determine their efficacy. An inactivated vaccine is an established technique that uses dead viruses to induce an immune response. Some notable examples include the polio, whooping cough, rabies and hepatitis A virus vaccines.
Based on interim analysis of data from phase-3 clinical trials, the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Health and Prevention said in December that Sinopharm's Beijing-developed vaccine offers an 86 percent protection rate against COVID-19. It also has 100 percent effectiveness in preventing moderate and severe cases of the disease.
Recent experiments show that Sinopharm's vaccine can provide "broad spectrum protection" against mutated strains of COVID-19 viruses, "and can effectively protect against these new variants", said Yu.
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Ryan said much of the future success the world has in fighting the virus hinges on vaccines
The World Health Organization said Monday that it is unlikely that the coronavirus will no longer be an issue by the end of the year and one official said despite advances, the virus is "very much in control."
Dr. Michael Ryan, the head of the WHO’s emergency services arm, told a press conference in Geneva that he believes it is "unrealistic, to think that we’re going to finish with this virus by the year."
COVID-19 seems to be entering a new stage where the vaccine rollout and reports of lower recorded transmissions have the public eager to move on from lockdowns and social-distancing mandates. But health officials have warned that cases ticked upward last week and there are variants circulating that may render approved vaccines less effective.
The Guardian reported that Ryan said much of the future success the world has in fighting the virus hinges on vaccines that may be able to lessen the risk of disease transmission.
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China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has been a surprising success: It has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press
"The choice was made for this vaccine because it is developed on a traditional and safe inactivated platform,” said Teymur Musayev, an official with the Ministry of Health in Azerbaijan, which has ordered 4 million Sinovac doses.
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The plane laden with vaccines had just rolled to a stop at Santiago’s airport in late January, and Chile’s president, Sebastián Piñera, was beaming. “Today,” he said, “is a day of joy, emotion and hope.”
The source of that hope: China – a country that Chile and dozens of other nations are depending on to help rescue them from the COVID-19 pandemic.
China’s vaccine diplomacy campaign has been a surprising success: It has pledged roughly half a billion doses of its vaccines to more than 45 countries, according to a country-by-country tally by The Associated Press. With just four of China’s many vaccine makers claiming they are able to produce at least 2.6 billion doses this year, a large part of the world’s population will end up inoculated not with the fancy Western vaccines boasting headline-grabbing efficacy rates, but with China’s humble, traditionally made shots.
Amid a dearth of public data on China’s vaccines, hesitations over their efficacy and safety are still pervasive in the countries depending on them, along with concerns about what China might want in return for deliveries. Nonetheless, inoculations with Chinese vaccines already have begun in more than 25 countries, and the Chinese shots have been delivered to another 11, according to the AP tally, based on independent reporting in those countries along with government and company announcements.
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