Covid-19 roundup: Trump suggests Pfizer vaccine could be first approved; VBI Vaccines inks development deal with Canada
President Donald Trump commented Monday morning that Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate could be the first to win approval by regulators.
During an interview on a Fox News morning show, the president said Pfizer was doing “very well” when asked which candidate could be approved, according to a Reuters report. He added that J&J could follow up afterward, saying “they’ll probably be a little later.”
In the interview, Trump reiterated his promise that a vaccine would be available by the end of October, in another break with public health officials.
Vaccine makers have come under intense political pressure as the November presidential election draws nearer. Over the weekend, HHS secretary Alex Azar asserted broad authority over the FDA’s ability to conduct rule making, putting career staff on notice that Azar’s signature is required.
Pfizer is currently one of three companies conducting a Phase III for their Covid-19 vaccine in the US, joined by Moderna and AstraZeneca. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has publicly said that the company will know whether or not its candidate works by the end of October, while Moderna president Stephen Hoge claimed his outfit will be sure of its candidate’s efficacies by November.
The three companies have published their Phase III trial protocols, a move normally reserved for the completion of such studies, after much pressure saying that the public needed transparency in order to assure the vaccines would be safe and effective.
VBI to develop vaccine exclusively in Canada
VBI Vaccines has a new customer, eh?
The Cambridge, MA-based biotech has an agreement with the government of Canada to take potential Covid-19 vaccines through mid-stage trials by the first quarter of 2022, Reuters reported Monday. The trials will take place exclusively in the country, with Canada contributing 75% of costs — good for a cool $42.2 million.
VBI said last month that it was investigating whether or not its VBI-2900 program could work for Covid-19 in collaboration with Canada’s National Research Council.
Known for its Hepatitis B vaccine research, VBI started looking at a pan-coronavirus approach back in March, aiming to get a catch-all vaccine for Covid-19, MERS and SARS. The company announced last month that it would begin a Phase I/II trial by the end of the year.
Preclinical data for its program showed four times as many neutralizing antibodies than the GMT of high-titer convalescent sera, which increased to 64 times higher after a second dose.
For a look at all Endpoints News coronavirus stories, check out our special news channel.