AstraZeneca teams up with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 trials
…from ABC News, Australia
[ Editor’s Note: This seems like a rational approach, so it receives a gold star for vaccine coordination, combining and testing the two types of vaccines to see if together they give a greater level of protection in particular profile groups or in general.
This has always been the theoretical silver lining in the current pandemic, that the health and financial widespread devastation would spur countries to unite their efforts to be agile in dealing with the next challenge.
The biggest concern is that the vaccines are not producing as high an antibody protection in seniors. Their lower immunity level is an obvious factor, but after all the effort that has gone into producing these vaccines, we are seeing a shared interest in testing ‘cocktail’ formulations to see if they can boost protection levels.
There is a benefit even in the failure of such an effort, as it advances research; and attention and funding can be shifting to new areas of research.
The bottom line, after Trump, is that we might see a new attitude on building WHO as the coordinator of a global defense response to avoid the devastation that Covid-19 has left in its wake.
The Trump regime will have to wear the shame of its dismissive attitude toward the pandemic preparation work that the Obama team had prepared, but where the Trumpers viewed it as a waste of time, as it was not a power vehicle to enhance one’s reputation in the administration.
There were more and more empty Trump team seats during briefings as time went on, the tip of the iceberg that would eventually reveal that few were there to serve, but to gain and exploit their positions to their fullest personal benefit … Jim W. Dean ]
First published … December 11, 2020
AstraZeneca will start clinical trials to test a combination of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine with Russia’s Sputnik V shot, in a bid to boost the efficacy of the British drugmaker’s vaccine.
Trials will start by the end of the year, according to Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, which has funded Sputnik V. The vaccine trial was named after the Soviet-era satellite that triggered the space race.
AstraZeneca said in a statement it was considering how it could assess combinations of different vaccines.
The company said it would begin exploring with Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, which developed Sputnik V, whether two common cold virus-based vaccines could be successfully combined. It did not give further details.
The news came as France’s Sanofi and Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline said clinical trials of their COVID-19 vaccine showed an insufficient immune response in older people.
The setback came on the same day as Australia’s domestic vaccine project was abandoned and is also a blow for many governments that have booked hundreds of millions of doses of the shot, including the European Union, United States and Britain.
The two companies said they planned to start another study next February, hoping to come up with a more effective vaccine by the end of 2021.
The co-operation between one of Britain’s most valuable listed companies and the state-backed Russian science research institute highlights the pressure to develop an effective shot to fight the pandemic, which has killed more than 1.5 million people worldwide.
The move is likely to be seen in Moscow as a long-awaited vote of confidence by a Western manufacturer in Sputnik V.
Its Russian developers say clinical trials, still underway, have shown it has an efficacy rate of over 90 per cent, higher than AstraZeneca’s own vaccine and similar to US rivals Pfizer and Moderna.
Some Western scientists have raised concerns about the speed at which Russia has worked, giving the regulatory go-ahead for its vaccines and launching large-scale vaccinations with Sputnik V before full trials to test its safety and efficacy have been completed.
The prospective tie-up comes as AstraZeneca, once seen as a frontrunner in the vaccine race, prepares for further tests to confirm whether its shot could be 90 per cent effective, potentially slowing its rollout.
The average efficacy rate was 70.4 per cent in interim late-stage data.
Both projects are using harmless adenoviruses as vehicles to bring genetic instructions into the body to prompt cells to produce vaccine proteins, an approach that has previously been used in an Ebola vaccine. The developers of Sputnik V suggested on Twitter last month that AstraZeneca try the combination.
“The decision by AstraZeneca to carry out clinical trials using one of two vectors of Sputnik V in order to increase its own vaccine’s efficacy is an important step towards uniting efforts in the fight against the pandemic,” RDIF wealth fund head Kirill Dmitriev said in a statement.
The partnership may draw scrutiny after the UK said in July that hackers backed by the Russian state were trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research from academic and pharmaceutical institutions around the world. The Kremlin rejected the Western allegations.
Both projects are using harmless adenoviruses as vehicles to bring genetic instructions into the body to prompt cells to produce vaccine proteins, an approach that has previously been used in an Ebola vaccine.
The developers of Sputnik V suggested on Twitter last month that AstraZeneca try the combination.
“The decision by AstraZeneca to carry out clinical trials using one of two vectors of Sputnik V in order to increase its own vaccine’s efficacy is an important step towards uniting efforts in the fight against the pandemic,” RDIF wealth fund head Kirill Dmitriev said in a statement.s
The setback affects one of the most established technologies in vaccines — used against the human papillomavirus, hepatitis B and pertussis among other pathogens — which aims to introduce lab-made proteins into the body to prod the immune system into developing a targeted defence against the novel coronavirus.
It cements the lead of more novel approaches used by vaccines from the likes of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which use mRNA genetic technology to trick the body into producing those proteins.
Delays and additional trials are not unusual but the Sanofi/GSK announcement highlights the unique set of challenges facing drugmakers in multitasking science, speed and logistics during a pandemic that has crushed global economies.
It also underscores why governments have spread their bets by securing shots from different developers.
Jim W. Dean Archives 2009-2014