- The whole world is coming together to fight against the novel Coronavirus
- How the known potential vaccines of coronavirus are doing and where they are being tested
The novel Coronavirus has been wreaking havoc all over the globe as the total tally of infected cases have crosses 3.8 million (38 lakh) and have claimed the lives of more than 2 lakh 60 thousand people (260 thousand) and though the number is huge but a sign of relief is that more than 1.3 million (13 lakh) people have also recovered from the deadly virus.
Also, scientists and researchers are working around the clock to make a potent vaccine for the deadly virus which we will talk about in this article. Italy and the US, both, have been brought to their knees by this virus, two nations which boasted of their healthcare system. Hence, it becomes all the more important to follow the lockdown and social distancing norma, at least until the time a vaccine is released.
Since the virus spreads easily and lives for a long period of time on different surfaces and no confirm vaccine, organisations like the World Health Organisation (WHO) and governments of all countries are asking people to stay indoors and maintain distance. At present, close to 80 groups worldwide are working to create a potent vaccine for this deadly virus to save human lives.
As of now, there are 111 potential vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 which are in different stages of clinical trials.
With multiple researchers groups developing potential vaccines, scientists from Italy are claiming t have developed a potent vaccine which has successfully generated antibodies in mince which work on human cells. The vaccine was tested in the Spallanzani Hospital in Rome. It is being said that this vaccine is at the most advanced stage among others in the country as it neutralises the SARS-CoV-2 in human cells.
After a single vaccination, the mice developed antibodies which could block the virus from infecting human cells. The researchers are saying they have selected 2 candidates after observing that 5 vaccine candidates generated antibodies in large numbers.
Not just this, coming from Israel, Naftali Bennett, their Defence Minister announced that the country had a remarkable breakthrough yesterday in the development of an effective vaccine for the novel Coronavirus. He said that Israel’s Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) has successfully developed a monoclonal neutralising antibody that will neutralise the virus in the body of the carriers.
Bennett said that the Israeli researchers have made a significant breakthrough in developing a vaccine to combat the COVID-19 and was quoted, “I am proud of the institute staff for this terrific breakthrough.”
In the UK, the world renowned and prestigious Oxford Univerisity had initiated the phase 1 of human trials of its vaccine on the 23rd of April where 2 volunteers were injected with the vaccine.
The first was Elisa Granato who got injected the vaccine.
The vaccine which is named ChAdOx1-nCoV-19 was developed just under 3 months by Jenner Institute of the university.
Another widely used treatment for the novel Coronavirus is Plasma Therapy. The convalescent plasma therapy involves transfusing of the blood component called plasma from the body of the person who has successfully recovered from COVID-19 to the person who is a patient of the COVID-19 who is at high risk.
Though governments and doctors are not up for it wholeheartedly, but with no confirmed vaccine, this is what they are using as the last resort to help the body produce antibodies and curb the Coronavirus.
Many hospitals in India, similar to hospitals overseas, have dived to use Plasma Therapy for treating the novel Coronavirus including in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Delhi Health Minister reported that following Plasma Therapy, 6 severely ill patients had almost recovered.
And building on what we said, it is very important to note that there are no definitive studies that show the effectiveness of plasma therapy in strengthening the immune system against the disease. Furthermore, the Union Health Ministry has advised against considering plasma therapy as the ultimate treatment to battle the highly infectious disease as it is at an experimental stage and has the potential to cause life-threatening transfusion-related complications.
In many countries, including the US, Brazil, Spain to name a few are using Hydroxychloroquine – a malaria drug – to combat the novel Coronavirus. This drug came into limelight when the President of US Donald Trump requested India to supply Hydroxychloroquine to the US. The reports suggests the Hydroxychloroquine is the first line treatment for patients which suffer from COVID-19 in the US as it is said to be able to contain antiviral and have immune-calming properties.
Even health experts in India are saying that until a potent vaccine for COVID-19 is released, Hydroxychloroquine is the “only available remedy” for the deadly virus.
Even a clinical trial claimed that Hydroxychloroquine can efficiently inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection in vitro and has a potential to combat the deadly disease, however, the prolonged usage and dosage of the same can be poisoning.
The demand of this anti-Malariadrug swelled after the preliminary reports from China claimed that it enabled recovery in COVID-19 patients. The results of the trial showed that the anti-Malaria drug helped in shortening the duration of cough, cold, and fever in the novel Coronavirus patients.
An important thing to note here is that a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) claimed that Hydroxychloroquine works on mild to moderately ill patients of COVID-19 but did not work on severely ill patients.
Another treatment which is being pushed for COVID-19 is the use of HIV drug combo (Lopinavir and Ritonavir). This antiviral drug combo was first found effective in treating the patients ill from COVID-19 as doctors of SMS Hospital in Jaipur, Rajasthan claimed to have given the combination anti-HIV drugs, lopinavir and ritonavir tablets to two Italian patients.
In a different incident in Kerala, a British national who was tested positive for the deadly virus was also given the HIV drug combo after which he recovered and tested negative for COVID-19.
Having said that, a clinical trial done in China over severely ill patients did not work and their health did not improve. The trial was conducted on 199 severely ill patients and was published in the NEJM.
As per WHO, 8 COVID-19 vaccines have entered human clinical trials as of now. In the USA, BioNtech and Pfizer, both pharmaceutical companies, have partnered together and have commenced the clinical trials of BNT162 vaccine programme.
Both the companies are working on 4 RNA vaccine candidates and have injected 12 healthy adults with their mRNA vaccine candidate. In an RNA vaccine, the RNA enters the human cells and then tells the cells how to build a spike protein of COVID-19 (without getting sick).
Once the antigen is recognised by the body, it starts producing protective antibodies.
When the whole World is working day and night to develop a potent vaccine. The need for making the vaccine is so huge the even the World Health Organisation is saying that deliberately injecting the healthy study participants will increase the speed of the studies for the vaccines because since the vaccine tests are usually conducted on a large group and waiting for these people to actually contact the virus will take a very long time.
This is certainly a race against time and everyone is pushing themselves beyond their limits to save lives.
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reviewed the status of development of a vaccine in the country for the deadly COVID-19 along with diagnosis, testing on Tuesday (5th of May 2020). It was found that as of now over 30 vaccines are in different stages of development in the country.
There are a few vaccines which can be taken to clinical trails Serum Institute which was founded by Cyrus S. Poonawalla and is the biggest manufacturer of vaccines in the world by volume said that it will price the COVID-19 vaccine at Rs. 1000 which is currently under the testing phase in the UK.