The coronavirus outbreak is possibly the worst pandemic most of us have witnessed in our lifetime, infecting over 2 million people so far and killing 184,263 of them. The reason why the virus is so deadly is because it is new and medical experts are still learning about how it affects the human body. So far, no drugs or vaccines seem to treat the virus, so doctors have resorted to treating its symptoms in OCIVD-19 positive patients instead.
Recently, doctors across the world and India started testing plasma therapy on patients, which involves transferring healthy plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient to a critically ill one, and it has shown positive results so far. However, to truly defeat the virus and ensure the world is a safe place again, a vaccine is our best bet. Typically, a vaccine takes between one and two years to be tested and ready for the markets. However, scientists across the globe are working round the clock to get a vaccine ready soon, and going by recent progress, the first one is likely to be ready by September this year.
Though there are now around 150 development projects worldwide, the plans from Germany and UK are among only five clinical trials on humans which have been approved across the globe. A few weeks ago, Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, shared that the clinical trials for the vaccine would start at the university “quite soon”. Well, looks like that time has come, because clinical trials are officially set to begin in the UK today.
The trial in the UK will be conducted by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and will involve 510 volunteers aged between 18 and 55 in the first phase. Professor Sarah Gilbert estimated that it has around an 80 percent chance of being successful. Isn’t that music to our ears?
The institute aims to develop a million doses of the vaccine by September, so as to distribute it as quickly as possible after approval. The Oxford trial is part of a nationwide effort in the UK which since Friday has been spearheaded by a government task force.
Meanwhile, Germany is all set to begin trial runs for their vaccine ‘soon’. In the first phase, the country will see “200 healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 55 years” vaccinated with variants of the vaccine, while the second phase could see the inclusion of volunteers who belonged to high-risk groups.
On Wednesday, Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNtech (the company working on the vaccine in Germany) told a press conference that tests would begin “at the end of April”. He also added that the firm expected to have collected first data by “the end of June or beginning of July”.
Aside from BioNtech and Oxford, three other clinical trials on humans have been approved worldwide since mid-March, which includes developers from China and the United States. The government of China approved the first trial for a vaccine developed by the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and Hong Kong-listed biotech firm CanSino Bio on March 16. That same day, US drug developer Moderna said it had begun human tests for their vaccine with the US National Institutes of Health. Another US lab, San Diego-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals, began the first phase human trials on April 6.
Well, the news of clinical trials already beginning worldwide are giving us a lot of hope. With so many vaccines in development, a successful vaccine should reach us sooner than later. Until then, let’s stay indoors to keep ourselves safe from the virus.
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