US company trials coronavirus vaccine candidate in Australia

By: |
Updated: May 26, 2020 12:20 PM

Novavax will inject 131 volunteers in the first phase of the trial testing the safety of the vaccine and looking for signs of its effectiveness, the company's research chief Dr. Gregory Glenn said.

coronavirus vaccine, US company, Novavax, NVX-CoV2373, coronavirus death, covid 19 death, latest news on coronavirus outbreakThousands of candidates in several countries would then become involved in a second phase. (Representational image: Reuters)

A US biotechnology company began injecting a coronavirus vaccine candidate into people in Australia on Tuesday with hopes of releasing a proven vaccine this year. Novavax will inject 131 volunteers in the first phase of the trial testing the safety of the vaccine and looking for signs of its effectiveness, the company’s research chief Dr. Gregory Glenn said.

About a dozen experimental vaccines against the coronavirus are in early stages of testing or poised to start, mostly in China, the US and Europe. It’s not clear that any will prove safe and effective. But many work in different ways, and are made with different technologies, increasing the odds that at least one approach might succeed.

”We are in parallel making doses, making vaccine in anticipation that we’ll be able to show it’s working and be able to start deploying it by the end of this year,” Glenn told a virtual news conference in Melbourne from Novavax’ headquarters in Maryland.

Also read| Check Coronavirus latest updates here:

Animal testing suggested the vaccine is effective in low doses. Novavax could manufacture at least 100 million doses this year and 1.5 billion in 2021, he said. Manufacture of the vaccine, named NVX-CoV2373, was being scaled up with $388 million invested by Norway-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations since March, Glenn said.

The results of the first phase of clinical trials in Melbourne and Brisbane are expected to be known in July, Novavax said. Thousands of candidates in several countries would then become involved in a second phase.

The trial began with six volunteers being injected with the potential vaccine in Melbourne on Tuesday, said Paul Griffin, infectious disease expert with Australian collaborator Nucleus Network. Most of the experimental vaccines in progress aim to train the immune system to recognize the ‘spike’ protein that studs the coronavirus’ outer surface, priming the body to react if it was exposed to the real virus. Some candidates are made using just the genetic code for that protein, and others use a harmless virus to deliver the protein-producing information. Still other vaccine candidates are more old-fashioned, made with dead, whole virus.

Novavax adds another new kind to that list, what’s called a recombinant vaccine. Novavax used genetic engineering to grow harmless copies of the coronavirus spike protein in giant vats of insect cells in a laboratory. Scientists extracted and purified the protein, and packaged it into virus-sized nanoparticles.

”The way we make a vaccine is we never touch the virus,” Novavax told The Associated Press last month. But ultimately, ”it looks just like a virus to the immune system.” It’s the same process that Novavax used to create a nanoparticle flu vaccine that recently passed late-stage testing.

Get live Stock Prices from BSE, NSE, US Market and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Financial Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest Biz news and updates.

Next Stories
1Nano-coated filter developed by IIT-M for COVID-19 warriors
2Mylan gets DCGI nod for remdesivir in India, to launch at Rs 4,800 per vial
3ICU beds at LNJP, Rajiv Gandhi hospitals increased to 180 and 200 respectively: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal