DURBAN – About 35 companies and academic institutions are racing to develop a Coronavirus vaccine. Moreover, new technologies combined with international cooperation are enabling faster responses to new disease outbreaks, shaving several years from traditional vaccine development timelines.
The new coronavirus was first identified in China in the city of Wuhan and reported on December 31, 2019. A week later scientists started on the road in finding a vaccine for the virus. Here is a timeline on the hunt for the Covid-19 vaccine:
January 11: Scientists publish molecular blueprint of the new Coronavirus, which marks the start of international efforts to study a vaccine.
March 16: The US National Institutes of Health begins trial of an investigational vaccine on 45 healthy adults, aged 18 to 55, after promising results in animal models.
April 2: France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research says clinical trials to test the BCG vaccine efficacy (was first used in 1921 to prevent tuberculosis) against Covid-19.
April 13: EU pledges €80 million for vaccine research, the funding is earmarked to support German biopharmaceutical company CureVac in developing a vaccine.
April 14: The British-French duo, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi announce clinical trials for the second half of 2020 hoping to make – if these trials are successful – the vaccine widely available by the second half of 2021.
April 22: Germany’s BioNTech and American partner Pfizer are given the green light to begin testing a variety of experimental vaccines on 200 healthy volunteers, aged between 18 and 55.
April 24: The University of Oxford begins human trials for Coronavirus vaccine.
May 22: University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine enters phase two of its trial. Over 10,000 adults and children take part in phase two of their clinical trial, ten times more than the first phase which began in April.
June 15: London’s Imperial College announces the beginning of human trials of vaccines. Three hundred healthy people participate in Imperial College’s study by receiving two doses of a potential vaccine.
June 16: The vaccine at the most advanced phase of trials is the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 drug, with studies underway to determine “its efficacy, safety and immunogenicity”.
July 1: Pfizer and BioNTech report their experimental BNT162b1 vaccine “is able to produce neutralising antibody responses in humans at or above the levels observed in convalescent sera – and that it does so at relatively low dose levels.”
July 7: Novavax receives $1.6 billion (€1.4 billion) from the US government for developing a vaccine including a trial, manufacturing and 100 million doses of its vaccine candidate.
July 15: A clinical trial at the Russian Ministry of Defence and the Nikolai Gamalaya Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology has produced positive results, according to the Russian government.
July 20: University of Oxford vaccine found to produce Covid-19 antibodies. Scientists said that they found their experimental Covid-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55.
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