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Brazil to start testing Oxford University and AstraZeneca's experimental vaccine against COVID-19 this month

Anvisa authorized the testing late on Tuesday. Some 2,000 people will participate in the trial, which will be conducted with the support of the Health Ministry, Unifesp said.

June 03, 2020 / 10:57 PM IST
4 | Sinovac coronavirus vaccine offered by Chinese city for emergency use costs $60: A Chinese city is offering Sinovac Biotech's experimental COVID-19 vaccine to essential workers and other high-risk groups as part of a national programme for about $60. The eastern city of Jiaxin's center for disease control and prevention (CDC) said in a statement on WeChat that two doses of the vaccine candidate, called CoronaVac, will cost 200 yuan ($29.75) per dose and that vaccinations for key groups including medical professionals have begun.

4 | Sinovac coronavirus vaccine offered by Chinese city for emergency use costs $60: A Chinese city is offering Sinovac Biotech's experimental COVID-19 vaccine to essential workers and other high-risk groups as part of a national programme for about $60. The eastern city of Jiaxin's center for disease control and prevention (CDC) said in a statement on WeChat that two doses of the vaccine candidate, called CoronaVac, will cost 200 yuan ($29.75) per dose and that vaccinations for key groups including medical professionals have begun.

Brazil this month will start testing an experimental vaccine against the novel coronavirus being developed by researchers at the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc, Brazil's health surveillance agency Anvisa and the Federal University of Sao Paulo (Unifesp) said.

Anvisa authorized the testing late on Tuesday. Some 2,000 people will participate in the trial, which will be conducted with the support of the Health Ministry, Unifesp said.

"The most important thing is to carry out this stage of the study now, when the epidemiological curve is still rising and the results may be more assertive," said Lily Yin Weckx, coordinator of the Reference Center for Special Immunobiologicals (CRIE) at Unifesp.

Developers and researchers are looking to COVID-19 hotspots, such as Latin America and Africa, where the illness is still on the rise, to test experimental vaccines as cases wane in Europe and elsewhere.

There are currently no approved vaccines to prevent infection with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The virus has infected more than 6.4 million people and killed over 380,000 worldwide.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Weckx is leading the study in Brazil, Unifesp said in a statement.

For testing in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest state and the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Latin America, 1,000 volunteers will be selected. The study is looking for people highly exposed to the coronavirus but who were not yet infected.

Anvisa said the testing request in Brazil was filed by the local unit of AstraZeneca.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
Reuters
first published: Jun 3, 2020 10:47 pm

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