China Develops First Covid-19 Vaccine

The Chinese central government in Beijing has approved the use of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine for the country’s military. This was first announced by the company producing the vaccine in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

This is a significant step in a global race to stop the deadly disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The company, CanSino announced that China’s Central Military Commission has given the vaccine a “military specially-needed drug approval” on June 25. Under this type of special allowance, the permission usually lasts for one year and is only applicable to the Chinese military personnel.

It is important to note that this decision means that the company and the government skipped over the 3rd phase of human trials which is the normal way of proceeding in vaccine development.

The vaccine called the Recombinant Novel Coronavirus Vaccine (Adenovirus Type 5 Vector) (the Ad5-nCoV), was developed by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology which is the part of the Chinese government’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and the vaccine company CanSino Biologics.

Both the government and the company has refrained from saying how broadly the vaccine will be distributed, which units of the military will be given the vaccine or of the vaccine administration was mandatory or voluntary.

Previously, China has claimed that its military has remained unaffected by the pandemic. The Chinese government has even claimed that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has not recorded a single coronavirus case.

Observers outside the China have serious reservations about this claim owing to the fact that the PLA is the among the world’s largest standing armies, making it statistically unlikely that its personnel have not been exposed to the virus.

According to the company statement, the clinical trials of the new vaccine have shown a “good safety profile” and the initial results show that Ad5-nCoV has potential to prevent disease caused by SARS-CoV-2.

The company, CanSino is also collaborating on the same vaccine with the Canadian government as well.  In May, the Canadian government started allowing human trials of the Ad5-nCoV vaccine.

The first and second phases of their Ad5-nCoV vaccine trials have already been completed. The results of these trials published in the Lancet, showed that almost half of Ad5-nCoV vaccine recipients reported fever, with 44% describing fatigue and 39% reporting a headache. Overall, 9% of patients described side effects that were severe enough to have potentially “prevented activity”.

China is just one of several countries rushing to produce a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, which has now infected more than 10.3 million people worldwide.

Currently, at least 17 vaccines are in clinical evaluation around the world, according to the World Health Organization, eight of which are being developed in China.

India to Begin Trial for First Local Covid-19 Vaccine

India is one of the world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs and vaccines. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly half a dozen Indian firms are trying to develop vaccines for the virus.

In this race of vaccine development, the first human trials of the local Covid-19 vaccine will begin in July. Volunteers in India will be immunized with a new locally made coronavirus vaccine next month.

In this trial by Hyderabad-based firm Bharat Biotech, an unconfirmed number of people will be given the vaccine. The company has said that the tests in animals suggest the vaccine is safe and triggers an effective immune response.

India’s drug control authorities have allowed Bharat Biotech to hold Phase 1 and 2 of clinical human trials after the company submitted results generated from preclinical studies, demonstrating safety and immune response. These two trials will see if the vaccine is safe for human use and produces an effective immune response.

The vaccine called Covaxin, has been developed in collaboration with India’s National Institute of Virology and Indian Council of Medical Research.

This is the first India-made vaccine and developed from a strain of the virus that was isolated locally and weakened under laboratory conditions. This is important because in order to curb the local spread of the virus, the country will need a vaccine that works against the local strain.

This is not the first time that this company is developing vaccines. The company has previously manufactured and delivered more than 4 billion doses of vaccines worldwide, for H1N1 and rotavirus, among other diseases.

Apart from Bharat Biotech, there are many other local companies working on vaccine for COVID-19 including, Zydus Cadilla that is working on two vaccines, Biological E, Indian Immunologicals, and Mynvax that are developing a vaccine each. Another four or five home-grown vaccines are in early stages of development.

Another Pune-based Serum Institute of India, to mass produce a vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and backed by the UK government as well.

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