Coronavirus News Asia

Vaccine race intensifies amid virus second wave

As fears increase of a Covid-19 second wave, the race to find a vaccine has intensified.

At least 27 new cases were reported in Beijing on Tuesday after last week’s outbreak at the sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food market. 

In the past five days, there have been 106 confirmed infections with up to 30 communities now in a state of lockdown. Tens of thousands of people have also been tested in China’s capital.

Against this backdrop, researchers at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom will start clinical trials, involving 300 people between the ages of 18 and 70. Up to 6,000 volunteers could then take part in phase two later this year if there is an “effective immune response.”

“From a scientific perspective, new technologies mean we have been able to get moving on a potential vaccine with unprecedented speed,” Professor Robin Shattock, of the London Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College, said.

“We’ve been able to produce a vaccine from scratch and take it to human trials in just a few months – from code to candidate – which has never been done before with this type of vaccine. If our approach works and the vaccine provides effective protection against disease, it could revolutionize how we respond to disease outbreaks in [the] future,” Shattock, who heads the research team, added.

Already there are more than 100 “vaccine candidates” under development around the world to combat SARS-CoV-2 according to Nature, a scientific journal based in the UK.

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British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical group AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University is one of them. Last weekend, the company announced it had agreed to supply up to 400 million doses of a possible vaccine to Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands “by the end of 2020.”

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