Covid-19 roundup: South Korean vaccine to go up against AstraZeneca shot in small Phase III; CDC's ACIP affirms full approval for Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
SK Bioscience, a South Korean company, and GlaxoSmithKline will test their Covid-19 vaccine candidate against AstraZeneca’s shot in about 4,000 people, the companies said Tuesday.
Shots from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca are approved in South Korea, and the SK shot is the country’s first domestic candidate, potentially helping not only South Korea, but the rest of Asia’s reliance on shots from the West.
The GSK-SK jab would become available throughout the world, through the WHO’s Covax vaccine sharing program. Known as GBP510, it’s a self-assembled nanoparticle vaccine candidate targeting the receptor binding domain of the spike protein, combined with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant. The antigen is being developed by SK in collaboration with the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington.
Thomas Breuer, chief global health officer at GSK, said in a statement, “We are pleased to contribute with GSK’s pandemic adjuvant and to be working with SK to deliver the vaccine at scale via COVAX if it is approved.”
The vaccine candidate advanced to the Phase III trial following positive interim Phase I/II data which showed that all participants who received the adjuvanted vaccine candidate developed strong neutralizing antibody responses. Neutralizing antibody titers were between five and a maximum of eight times higher compared to sera from people recovered from Covid-19, and no safety concerns have been identified to date.
Results from the Phase III study are expected in the first half of 2022.
CDC backs full approval of Pfizer-BioNTech jab
A week after the FDA cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for approval, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has unanimously voted in favor of the two-dose regimen for those ages 16 and older.
The sign-off will hopefully allow for the vaccine to be more widely accepted, Bloomberg reported. CDC director Rochelle Walensky still needs to give the final approval.
The vote comes as vaccination numbers in the US have somewhat tapered off in the last month, as the number of fully vaccinated Americans has hovered around 50% since July.
Companies, schools and governments have put a vaccine requirement into place already as the vaccine was approved. Since gaining its emergency use authorization in December, the Pfizer-BioNTech jab has been used the most, data from the CDC said.
The panel did say that it could take a different approach to booster shots than what President Joe Biden’s administration proposed. The proposed plan prioritizes those who are high-risk, long-term care facility and health workers, rather than all eligible Americans.
Biden’s administration has previously said that boosters will become available on September 20.