What you need to know:
- Russia has been accused of holding back scientific information on its testing.
- South Africa announced on Tuesday that it is trialling two international vaccine candidates.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic period, the world has been hopeful a virus will be discovered soon.
People have been waiting for the day scientists announce a successful coronavirus vaccine because that is the only way countries will safely go back to what they were used to.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday announced the “big news”.
Scientists have, however, advised the world to tone down its expectations, with disease experts saying even if a vaccine is found, public health measures would still be needed to control the pandemic.
They say an approved vaccine could end up being effective only 50 to 60 per cent.
“We don’t know what the efficacy of the vaccine is. We don’t know if it will be 50 or 60 per cent. I’d like it to be 75 per cent or more, but the chances of it being 98 per cent effective are slim. That means we should never abandon the public health approach,” top United States infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said during a webinar hosted by Brown University on Thursday.
Holding back information
Russia has been accused of holding back scientific information on its testing.
In April, the country enacted a law that eliminated the need for crucial phase three trials to be conducted before approval. This allowed researchers to speed up the vaccine development.
Ideally, phase three trials are conducted to confirm and expand on the safety and effectiveness results from phase one and two.
It compares the drug to standard therapies for the disease or condition being studied.
It also evaluates the overall risks and benefits of the drug or vaccine.
There are 25 vaccines in the clinical evaluation stage of development and 139 more candidates in the pre-clinical evaluation stage, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
That means they are being tested in the laboratory or in animal models and have not yet progressed to phase one safety human trials.
Closely watched vaccines in development include one from the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca and another from the biotechnology company Moderna and the US National Institute of Health.
Both have shown promising results and are in phase three testing stage.
South Africa announced on Tuesday that it is trialling two international vaccine candidates.
Johnson & Johnson’s product and America’ Novavax candidate called NVX-CoV2373 will be tested in the US from next month.
The trials follow the June launch of the South African Ox1Cov-19 vaccine VIDA-trial in partnership with Oxford University. It was the first Covid-19 vaccine candidate to be tested in Africa.
As with the Oxford one, the Novavax trial is in phase two. The efficacy of the vaccine will be tested but is not as powered as a phase three randomised, double-blind control trial.