U.S. biotech firm Moderna, is currently in a leading position in the global race to find a vaccine against the coronavirus. Photo: Supplied.

Covid-19 vaccine test to start next month

The first experimental Covid-19 vaccine in the U.S. is on track to begin a huge study next month to prove if it really can fend off the coronavirus, while hard-hit Brazil is testing a different shot from China.

DURBAN – Globally there are more than 100 potential Covid-19 vaccines in various stages of development around the world. Among front runners currently in human trials are the Covid-19 vaccines being developed by AstraZeneca, Pfizer, BioNtech, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Sanofi and China’s CanSino Biologics.

The first experimental Covid-19 vaccine in the U.S. is on track to begin a huge study next month to prove if it really can fend off the coronavirus, while hard-hit Brazil is testing a different shot from China.

The vaccine, is jointly developed by the US National Institutes of Health, has lent some assurance in studies on mice that it may not increase the risk of more severe disease and that one dose may provide protection against the novel coronavirus.

 “The vaccine will be tested in 30,000 people in the U.S. Some will get the real shot and some a dummy shot, as scientists carefully compare which group winds up with the most infections,” said Moderna Inc.

According to media reports, drugmaker AstraZeneca struck a deal Saturday to supply up to 400 million doses of an experimental Covid-19 vaccine to European Union countries, the latest in a series of agreements as scientists, governments and pharmaceutical companies race to combat the virus.

The government of São Paulo announced that Sinovac will ship enough of its experimental vaccine to test 9,000 Brazilians starting next month.

“If it works, with this vaccine we will be able to immunise millions of Brazilians,” said São Paulo´s Gov. Joao Doria.

Initially planned for September, American firm Johnson & Johnson said it had fast-tracked the start of human clinical trials for its recombinant Ad26.COV2-S vaccine by two months to the second half of July. The decision may allow J&J to take part in the massive clinical trials program — Operation Warp Speed — planned by the US government.

Even before proof that any potential vaccine will work, companies and governments are beginning to stockpile millions of doses so they can be ready to start vaccinating as soon as answers arrive.

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