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Scientists develop ‘ultrapotent’ vaccine candidate, J&J resumes trial in Brazil

Small bottles labeled with "Vaccine"stickers stand near a medical syringe in front of displayed "Coronavirus COVID-19"words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. Reuters. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NEW DELHI, Nov 4, 2020, India Today. At a time when several companies are in a race to develop a strong coronavirus vaccine, scientists have come up with a new “ultrapotent” Covid-19 vaccine candidate that has produced “extremely high levels” of protective antibodies in animal models, India Today reported.

Meanwhile, Brazilian health regulator Anvisa has authorised the resumption of clinical trials of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) experimental Covid-19 vaccine, reported news agency Reuters. In other vaccine news, Mexico has received the first doses of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate from Chinese pharmaceutical company CanSino Biologics’s Covid-19.

‘Ultrapotent’ vaccine

Researchers said that the ‘ultrapotent’ vaccine candidate has the capability to produce more virus-neutralising antibodies in mice as compared to people who have recovered from the disease.

The study, published in the journal Cell, said that it generates 10 times more neutralising antibodies in mice, even at six-fold lower vaccine doses. It also shows a strong B-cell immune response after administration — it is a sign of higher durability of the vaccine’s effect.

When the vaccine was given to a nonhuman primate, scientists said it produced neutralising antibodies, targeting different sites on the spike protein of the coronavirus, which it uses to enter human cells.

The researchers also aid that this could ensure protection against mutated strains of the coronavirus. According to the study, the molecular structure of the vaccine roughly mimics that of a virus, which may account for its enhanced ability to provoke an immune response.

“We hope that our nanoparticle platform may help fight this pandemic that is causing so much damage to our world,” said Neil King, a co-author of the study from UW Medicine.

“The potency, stability, and manufacturability of this vaccine candidate differentiate it from many others under investigation,” King said.

J&J vaccine trials resume in Brazil

J&J’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine is one of four being tested in Brazil, which has suffered the third worst outbreak of coronavirus after the United States and India. It may be noted that Brazil has the second-highest Covid-19 death toll after the United States.

The J&J trial in Brazil had been suspended since October 12 over safety concerns. A safety panel evaluated an unexplained illness among a participant, out of 60,000 people who took part in the Phase III trials. Testing of the vaccine in the United States resumed last month.

CanSino Biologics delivers Covid-19 vaccine to Mexico

Mexico has received the first doses of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate from Chinese pharmaceutical company CanSino Biologics’s Covid-19. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrar said that the vaccine will be administered to 10,000-15,000 volunteers in a late-stage trial.

The country aims to vaccinate nearly all of its population against coronavirus by the end of 2021 after reaching an agreement with pharmaceutical companies and the World health Organisation-based COVAX plan.

Ebrard said, “On October 30, the first doses were received to carry out phase three of clinical trials of the candidate vaccine from Cansino Bio.”

(With inputs from Reuters and PTI)

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