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Coronavirus vaccine update: US firm Eli Lilly begins human trial of potential treatment

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US-based healthcare firm Eli Lilly and Co has said that it has begun with the world's first human trial of potential antibody treatment of coronavirus. The first set of patients have been dosed in an early-stage trial which is the world's first study of an antibody treatment against the disease. The study will assess safety and tolerability in patients hospitalised with coronavirus and results are anticipated by the end of June, the company said in a statement.

The experimental treatment, LY-CoV555, has been developed through collaboration with privately held AbCellera Biologics, which Lilly partnered with in March to test antibodies to treat and prevent coronavirus. Eli Lilly also said that it plans to move into the next phase of testing, studying the potential treatment in non-hospitalised patients, if the drug is shown to be safe.

Right now, over 100 experimental COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of development, as per the World Health Organisation (WHO). From US-based Moderna Inc to China's CanSino Pharmaceuticals Inc, some of the world's biggest companies are in the race to develop the coronavirus vaccine.

"I still think that we have a good chance, if all the things fall in the right place, that we might have a vaccine that would be deployable by the end of the year, by December and November," Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force and globally renowned immunologist, recently said.

Meanwhile, there are 64,52,390 cases of coronavirus currently across the world. So far, 3,82,479 people have died from the disease.

Coronavirus vaccine update: After Moderna, CanSino Biologics claims positive results in early trials

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The preliminary findings of the test for the coronavirus vaccine being developed by CanSino Biologics have shown favourable results, a study showed. The potential COVID-19 vaccine appeared safe and triggered an immune response in healthy adults in the early trials, the study published in the health journal The Lancet said. The early trials showed that the experimental vaccine, Ad5-nCoV, may help train the human body to resist infection by the new SARS-CoV-2 virus. The study includes 108 participants aged between 18 and 60 years and with no history of coronavirus infection. The phase 1 trials were conducted in Wuhan, Hubei province.

It comes days after biotechnology company Moderna had said that the preliminary findings of its test for coronavirus vaccine development have shown favourable results. The experimental vaccine appears to be safe and able to trigger an immune response against the infection, Moderna had said. There are more than 100 coronavirus vaccines being currently developed globally.

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Harsh Varshan on Sunday said that at least four of the candidate coronavirus vaccines are soon expected to enter the clinical trial stage. "There are over 100 candidate vaccines  which are at different levels of development. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is coordinating the efforts. India is also actively contributing in it," Vardhan said in a social media interaction with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader G V L Narasimha Rao.

"As far as I know, four of our fourteen  vaccines will soon be in the clinical trial stage, within 4 to 5 months. All the 14 are right now at the pre-clinical trial stage," he added.

Trump tells WHO to prove 'independence' from China within 30 days; warns freeze on funding

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US President Donald Trump wrote to the World Health Organisation alleging the UN body of underplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus when it first broke out. Trump wrote to WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and gave the organisation an ultimatum of 30 days to "commit to major substantive improvements". He said that if the organisation failed to do so within the stipulated time, then the US would stop funding WHO and consider withdrawing its membership. "I cannot allow American taxpayer dollars to continue to finance an organisation that, in its present state, is so clearly not serving America's interests," said Trump in his letter.

The US President alleged that the WHO consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier. He said that the organisation failed to independently probe the reports that were in conflict with the Chinese government's accounts.

Trump said that the WHO realised that coronavirus was a health emergency not later than December 30. He said that there was enough evidence from the country to show that a new virus was emerging. Taiwan had also informed the WHO about the virus that could communicate from human to human. Trump said that even then WHO did not do anything.

The US President said Dr Zheng Yongzhen had alerted the government but nothing was published by them till he posted about COVID-19 himself online. Soon after the government shut down his lab for "rectification".

Donald Trump also pointed out that WHO had initially said that there was no evidence to suggest that coronavirus spread from human to human. He also alleged that Chinese President Xi Jinping pressured Ghebreyesus to not declare corona a health emergency. Ghebreyesus, Trump alleged, gave in to the pressure. He in fact, praised the Chinese government for its "transparency", said Trump.

Even when coronavirus was declared an emergency, the WHO failed to pressure China to allow a team of international medical experts into the country. It was done so only two weeks later and even then Wuhan was off limits. "You also strongly praised China's strict domestic travel restrictions, but were inexplicably against my closing of the United States border, or the ban, with respect to people coming from China," said Trump. He said that China's pressure campaign on other nations to lift travel restrictions was supported by the WHO's incorrect statements.

The WHO also downplayed the risk of asymptomatic spread, said Trump. He added that by the time China declared coronavirus a pandemic, it had already killed 4,000 people and infected 100,000 people across 114 countries.

Trump said that even now China refuses to share data accurately and on a timely basis. "China continues to deny international access to their scientists and relevant facilities, all while casting blame widely and recklessly censoring its own experts," said Trump.

The WHO failed to force China for an independent investigation. "The WHO could have done so much better," said Trump citing example of the organisation's handling of the SARS outbreak.

Donald Trump, in his letter, asked WHO to demonstrate "independence from China". He reiterated that action is needed on this urgently and there's no time to waste, asking WHO to prove itself in 30 days.

Coronavirus vaccine update: These countries are closest to finding a treatment

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The total number of coronavirus cases across the world are still on the rise despite stringent lockdown and containment measures put in place by most countries . The latest data suggests the total COVID-19 cases have crossed the 3.5 million-mark, including over 2.4 lakh deaths. The United States has been the worst affected nation with 72,275 deaths, followed by the UK, Italy and Spain. As spread of coronavirus shows no sign of slowing down, researchers and various governments are doubling their efforts to develop a vaccine.

Here's an update on COVID-19 researches across major countries

The United States: The US leads the chart with 209 active case studies going on to develop a vaccine. Pharma giant PFizer has already injected the first experimental vaccine on patients in the US. Gilead has ramped-up activities to make virus treatment drug Remdesivir, which has been showing 'very promising' results in a crucial study in the US, Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government's top expert said. Regeneron has also said its 'anti-body' treatment drug could also be available by this fall. Besides, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and several other bio-pharmaceutical companies have ramped-up efforts to develop the COVID-19 vaccine.

The UK: Scientists at Jenner Institute of Oxford University claim to have made a potential vaccine for coronavirus. Also, UK biotech company Synairgen's drug called Interferon Beta has been injected in patients as part of initial trials, which will show results by June. It's otherwise used for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. UK has pledged 388 million euro to fund vaccine research, tests and treatments. About 31 active case studies for vaccine development are going on in the UK.

Israel: Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett claimed the Israel government's Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) has developed an antibody to the novel coronavirus and is going to patent and mass-produce the potential treatment.

China: WHO data says four vaccines under human trials are from China. Except for the DNA-based vaccine attempted by US-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals, all the other vaccines are now undergoing Phase 1 and Phase 2 human trials together in a bid to fast track the development process. Chinese vaccines under development are from CanSino Biological Inc-Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, Wuhan Institute of Biological Product-Sinopharm, Beijing Institute of Biological Products with Sinopharm, and an independent SARS platform-based inactivated vaccine from Sinovac.

Italy: There are around 59 active case studies going on in the country. A team of Italian scientists claimed to have discovered the world's first vaccine that can neutralise the deadly virus. Italian scientists at Rome's Spallanzani Hospital have claimed that they are the first to neutralise the virus via a vaccine and that the initial results were "encouraging and beyond expectations".

India: More than 30 vaccines are in various stages of development in India, scientists informed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. University of Oxford's vaccine is also being developed with multiple partners including India's Serum Institute of India. The WHO document says out of the 100 projects under pre-clinical stages, Indian companies like Zydus Cadila, Codagenix-Serum Institute of India, Indian Immunologicals with Griffith University, Bharat Biotech with the Thomas Jefferson University, Biological E Ltd, and the UW Madison-FluGen-Bharat Biotech combine are also working on vaccine candidates.

Coronavirus Updates: Total cases surge to 42,533, 1,074 people cured in 24 hours, says govt

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Lockdown 3.0 begins today and India Coronavirus latest news: India's coronavirus tally has touched 42,533, including 1,373 deaths and 11,707 cured or discharged. Though cases are rising every day, the government claims it has been able to curb coronavirus spread in most parts of India. As the government allows partial opening up of the economy from today, India could, however, see a spurt in cases if social distancing norms will not be followed by people. Several visuals are coming in from different parts of the country today, especially Delhi, where people were seen queueing up in large numbers while flouting social distancing norms.

Union Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agrawal says historically it has been noted that if social distancing is not respected when social mobility is allowed, chances of disease transmission increase rapidly once restrictions are eased.

As of now, as many as 11,706 people have been cured. In the last 24 hours, 1,074 people have been cured. "This is the highest number in terms of cured patients noted till date. Our recovery rate is now 27.52 per cent. The total number of COVID19 cases now stand at 42,533," says Lav Agrawal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry.

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