Coronavirus company news summary – WHO halts hydroxychloroquine trial over safety concerns – Novavax initiates recruitment for Covid-19 vaccine trial

Allie Nawrat 26 May 2020 (Last Updated May 26th, 2020 09:13)

26 May 2020 

US-based biotechnology firm Novavax has started enrolling participants in a Phase I/II clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, NVX‑CoV2373. It is recruiting around 130 healthy participants aged 18 to 59 years at two sites in Australia. Preliminary immunogenicity and safety data from the Phase I portion are expected in July this year.

Fujifilm is set to continue its research on antiviral drug Avigan as a potential Covid-19 treatment into June, said Japan’s government, which was originally expected to approve the drug this month if its efficacy and safety could be confirmed. According to Reuters, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that an application filed by the company will be promptly reviewed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has temporarily suspended a clinical trial of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in Covid-19 patients over safety concerns, according to the organisation's director- general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The move comes after data from an observational study, published in The Lancet journal, revealed a higher mortality rate in patients treated with hydroxycholoroquine, when given alone or with a macrolide.

The Vector State Center for Virology and Biotechnology (Vector Institute) in Russia has plans to study its Covid-19 vaccine candidate late next month, the institute’s CEO Rinat Maksyutov told news agency TASS. Of 25 vaccine variants tested on animals, the Center selected three promising prototypes based on their effectiveness and suitability for mass production.