Covid-19 roundup: CanSino submits vaccine to Chinese regulators; AstraZeneca says antibodies show early efficacy against new variants — report
CanSino says their single-dose Covid-19 vaccine is 65.28% effective at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 cases, and they’ve officially filed for authorization with China’s National Medical Products Administration.
The vaccine was 90.07% effective at preventing severe disease 28 days after the single dose, according to a statement reported by local media. Efficacy rates were slightly higher 14 days after the single dose, at 68.83% for symptomatic disease and 95.47% for severe disease.
CanSino made an official regulatory filing during HK lunch hour just now about its 1 shot Ad5 vaccine efficacy. Although these numbers were already in the news unofficially last week.
— Brad Loncar (@bradloncar) February 24, 2021
The results come from a multicenter Phase III trial that took place in Pakistan, Mexico, Russia, Chile and Argentina. To date, 40,000 volunteers have been vaccinated, CanSino said.
China’s government began allowing its military to use the adenoviral vector-based vaccine back in June, making it the first vaccine approved for limited human use. It was also China’s first vaccine to enter human testing.
Facing concerns that the candidate had limited efficacy, CanSino entered a Phase I trial in China studying the efficacy of a two-dose regimen in September. That trial, which is active but no longer recruiting, enrolled 149 participants according to registration records.
AstraZeneca says its antibodies show early efficacy against new variants — report
Early tests suggest that AstraZeneca’s monoclonal antibody cocktail appears to be effective against emerging variants, the pharma’s head of microbial sciences, Mark Esser, told Bloomberg.
Esser said the antibodies showed promise against two strains first detected in the UK and South Africa, Bloomberg’s Suzi Ring reported. In total, AstraZeneca is running five late-stage trials evaluating the antibodies for prevention and treatment — though Esser says the company is struggling with enrollment as people drop out to get vaccinated.
AZD7442 entered an international Phase III trial back in November, with a target of 5,000 participants. So far, AstraZeneca has recruited 3,000 volunteers, Bloomberg reported.
Prophylactic treatments like the one AstraZeneca is developing could prove useful for those with weaker immune systems, or those who don’t respond well to a vaccine. AZD7442 is a combination of two monoclonal antibodies that is designed to be injected into the muscle.
“These have been engineered specifically to have what we call a long half-life, (so) we think they will confer protection for (at least) six, but more likely closer to 12 months,” Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca’s executive vice president of biopharmaceuticals R&D, said in November, per Reuters.
Eli Lilly clinched the first emergency use authorization for a Covid-19 antibody back in November, and racked up another EUA earlier this month for the use of its two-drug antibody cocktail in recently diagnosed patients with mild to moderate disease.
The news comes about a week after the WHO approved AstraZeneca and Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine. The AstraZeneca shot makes up the vast majority of COVAX vaccines, with more than 330 million doses scheduled for delivery starting in late February.
NIH launches new initiative studying Covid long-haulers
As a growing number of Covid-19 patients report symptoms that just won’t go away, the NIH has launched a new initiative to understand the long-term effects of the virus.
Large numbers of patients continue to experience a “constellation” of symptoms after recovering from the initial stages of Covid-19, from “brain fog” to shortness of breath, according to the NIH. The symptoms, dubbed “Long Covid,” can persist for months. And in some cases, new symptoms arise over time.
“We do not know yet the magnitude of the problem, but given the number of individuals of all ages who have been or will be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the public health impact could be profound,” NIH director Francis Collins said in a statement.
With the help of $1.15 billion from Congress over the next four years, the NIH is launching the Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC) Initiative in the hopes of addressing key questions, including what causes the prolonged symptoms and why some people are more vulnerable than others.
The initiative’s central program, the SARS-CoV-2 Recovery Cohort, will focus mainly on characterizing the long-term effects and the trajectory of symptoms over time. Another complementary study will source data from health records and databases to understand how many people are affected and what contributes to recovery. A second one will evaluate injury to the brain and other organs.
“Through this initiative, we aim to learn more about how SARS-CoV-2 may lead to such widespread and lasting symptoms, and to develop ways to treat or prevent these conditions,” Collins said. “We believe that the insight we gain from this research will also enhance our knowledge of the basic biology of how humans recover from infection, and improve our understanding of other chronic post-viral syndromes and autoimmune diseases, as well as other diseases with similar symptoms.”
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