Covid-19 vaccine: Latest updates on Oxford, Moderna and Pfizer breakthroughs

What about the Imperial College vaccine?

Researchers at Imperial have developed a candidate which, when injected, will deliver the genetic instructions to muscle cells to make the SARS-CoV-2 spike surface protein. This should provoke an immune response and create immunity to the virus.

The Imperial human challenge trial is being run by hVivo, a spin-off company from Queen Mary University of London. Already roughly 2,000 people have signed up to take part in challenge studies in Britain through the group 1Day Sooner. 

Those testing the vaccine will be given the jab and will then wait a month for antibodies to build. The volunteers will then be exposed to the virus.

Rather than giving people a weakened form of the illness, the Imperial vaccine instead uses synthetic strands of genetic code based on the virus’ genetic material. 

What do we know about China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines?

Sinovac, the Chinese pharmaceutical firm, says its vaccine is nearly ready and will be rolled out across the world early this year.

The vaccine had a general efficacy of less than 60 per cent in its clinical trial in Brazil, Reuters reported.

Sao Paulo’s Butantan biomedical center, which has partnered with Sinovac to produce the vaccine in Brazil, plans to release general efficacy results on Tuesday as it seeks emergency use for the shot from health regulator Anvisa. It called the report “purely speculative”.

Sinovac is one of four Chinese vaccines in last-stage human trials, a higher number than any other nation in the world.

Beijing was so confident in its homegrown inoculations that authorities were administering vaccines for more than a month before clinical studies concluded, authorities revealed at the beginning of September.

Some are concerned about the quality of the vaccines and on November 9, Sinovac was forced to suspend trials of its vaccine in Brazil after a participant died.

Turkish researchers said on Dec 24 their interim results from a Covid-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech showed 91.25 per cent efficacy only to see a confusing readout the same day from Brazil, which said the vaccine’s efficacy was between 50 per cent and 90 per cent.

Indonesia is the first country outside of China to grant emergency use approval to Sinovac Biotech’s coronavirus vaccine on Jan 11 amid surging infections and deaths.

Interim data from a late-stage human test of CoronaVac showed it is 65.3 per cent effective, Indonesia’s food and drugs authority BPOM said – lower than figures in Brazil and Turkey which have yet to launch mass vaccinations.

“These results meet the requirements of the World Health Organization of minimum efficacy of 50 per cent,” BPOM head Penny K. Lukito told a news conference.

President Joko Widodo is set to get his first dose on Jan 13 in a sign of the priority placed on immunisation in a country of 270 million people that has done far less than Southeast Asian neighbours to contain the virus.

But some public health specialists question how effective the rollout will be given the limited number of doses available, logistical challenges across thousands of islands and scepticism over the vaccine.

On Dec 31, China approved the Sinopharm vaccine, its first approved shot for general public use.

No detailed efficacy data of the vaccine has been publicly released but its developer, Beijing Biological Products Institute, a unit of Sinopharm subsidiary China National Biotec Group (CNBG), said on Dec 30 its vaccine was 79.34 per cent effective in preventing people from developing the disease based on interim data.

Seychelles has started vaccinating its population against Covid-19 with doses from China’s Sinopharm vaccine, President Wavel Ramkalawan said.

Mr Ramkalawan’s office said in a statement seen by Reuters on Monday that the initial target was for the vaccine to reach 25,000 people and first priority was for healthcare workers.

Ramkalawan’s office said he and former president Danny Faure and other senior government officials were vaccinated as part of efforts to bolster confidence among the population to take part in the exercise.

The statement said the Indian Ocean archipelago had received 50,000 doses of the vaccine as a donation from the United Arab Emirates.

What’s happening with the Sanofi/GSK vaccine?

Drug companies Sanofi and GSK have announced a delay in their Covid-19 vaccine programme after trials showed an “insufficient response” in the over-50s.

The UK had ordered 60 million doses of the vaccine.

Phase 1/2 interim results for the Anglo-French alliance’s jab showed an immune response comparable to patients who recovered from Covid-19 in adults aged 18 to 49 years. But results in older adults were less successful.

Researchers are working to refine the concentration of antigen within the shot. The rollout is now not expected before the last-quarter of 2021.

Who will get the vaccine first?