With over 55 million people infected by COVID-19 worldwide as of today, the pandemic continues to endanger human lives at an alarming pace. Experts are asserting that the global outbreak has officially entered the fourth wave of infection which might be the strongest wave yet.
The USA is battling a third wave of the viral outbreak, most European nations are experiencing a severe second wave, while India and South America stand at the brink of a second wave surge.
The only hopeful news at the moment is perhaps that the clinical trials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine have yielded the best results so far among all the potential vaccine candidates. According to the early trial reports released by the US-based biotechnology firm, the mRNA-1273 vaccine has shown 94.5% effectiveness, especially in the most vulnerable age group – senior citizens of 65 years or above. The result is deemed better than the Pfizer vaccine which exhibited a 90% efficacy rate in reports published last week.
Moderna conducted their trial in a diverse group of over 30,000 individuals and Pfizer tested their vaccine on 43,538 people across six countries. Fortunately, none of the vaccines reported any serious side effects or safety concerns in their mass trials.
Other top vaccine contenders
Presently, there are 54 COVID-19 vaccines in the clinical trial phase and around 87 vaccines in the preclinical development phase, as reported by The New York Times. Experts are considering the Moderna results most promising so far since the other trials did not account the age factor of participants.
Aside from the mRNA-1273 vaccine by Moderna and BNT162 by Pfizer-BioNTech, the other top contenders include the AZD1222 by Oxford University, AstraZeneca, IQVIA and Serum Institute of India, the Ad5-nCoV by CanSino Biologics (China), CoronaVac by Sinovac (China), ZyCov-D by Zydus Cadila (India) and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech & National Institute of Virology (India). The Russian adenoviral vaccine Sputnik V is also claimed to be 92% effective but certain experts do not concur with the results citing the limited number of COVID-19 cases tested out in this trial.
Both Moderna and Pfizer are likely to apply soon for Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) of their vaccines at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They will begin mass production immediately after confirmed approval.
India starts dialogue with Moderna
Earlier today, Moderna announced a mass supply agreement with the UK government for their mRNA-1273 vaccine, subject to FDA approval. They plan to produce 20 million doses by end of 2020 and up to 1 billion doses in 2021.
India’s position is quite encouraging in this context. Earlier today, official sources within the government confirmed that India has already started a dialogue with Moderna for procuring the vaccine as early as possible. Alongside, the Health Ministry is also in discussion with Pfizer, Serum Institute, Zydus Cadila and Bharat Biotech over clinical trials of each vaccine as well as meticulous assessment of their efficacy, safety and immunogenicity.
Once an approved vaccine reaches the global market, healthcare personnel are expected to receive the first doses, followed by frontline workers, seniors and individuals with co-morbidities. All in all, experts have predicted that a COVID-19 vaccine will be available for the public by early 2021. However, it might take another year or so for life to return to pre-Covid normalcy.
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