Coronavirus vaccine update: The British government will fund clinical trials to purposely infect study participants with COVID-19 to fastrack the coronavirus vaccine research.
The tests called “human challenge” trials will be conducted by researchers to infect young and healthy volunteers with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. In another development, the AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus vaccine trials are likely to resume again after halting them, as one of the study participants in the UK developed an “unexplained illness” following an adverse event. Meanwhile, the health ministry in India has identified three crore healthcare workers who will be vaccinated in the first round. This comprised approximately 80 lakh doctors and around 2 crore other essential workers.
UK to begin human challenge trials
Britain will help fund trials using a manufactured COVID-19 virus to deliberately infect young healthy volunteers with the hope of accelerating the development of vaccines against it. The government said on Tuesday it will invest 33.6 million pounds ($43.5 million) in the so-called “human challenge” trials in partnership with Imperial College London, laboratory and trial services company hVIVO, and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. If approved by regulators and an ethics committee, the studies will start in January with results expected by May 2021, the government said.
AstraZeneca US trials may resume
AstraZeneca Plc’s AZN.L COVID-19 vaccine trial in the United States (US) is expected to resume as early as this week after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed its review of a serious illness in a study participant, Reuters reported, citing sources. AstraZeneca’s large, late-stage US trial has been on hold since September 6, after a participant in the company’s UK trial fell ill with what was suspected to be a rare spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis. FDA, however, has declined to comment on the news report.
India to vaccinate 3 crore people in the first tranche
The government will vaccinate around 3 crore healthcare workers in the first tranche comprising around 70-80 lakh doctors and approximately 2 crore frontline workers, according to health ministry sources. The 2 crore essential workers comprise Asha workers, armed forces, home guards, central and state police forces, municipal workers, and community workers such as drivers, teachers, and cleaners.
In his address to the nation on Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “few vaccine trials are in advanced stage. Our doctors and scientists are working on it. The government is also working on the distribution of vaccines and also ensuring to provide vaccine to each person in the country.”