27 July 2020 

Serum Institute of India (SII) has filed an application with the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to study a Covid-19 vaccine candidate, which is being developed by the University of Oxford, in Phase II and III clinical trials. SII is planning an observer-blind, randomised controlled trial to assess the safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine candidate, which is named ‘Covishield’ in India. A total of 1,600 participants aged more than 18 years will be enrolled in the trial, which is expected to begin next month.

Moderna and the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) have updated their contract to include an additional of up to $472m for late-stage clinical development of the company’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate. This brings the total value of the award to approximately $955m, boosting the previous commitment of up to $483m to support scale up and clinical development of the potential vaccine.

Sorrento Therapeutics has entered into a letter of intent to acquire gene-encoded therapeutics company SmartPharm Therapeutics with an initial focus on neutralising antibodies against Covid-19. SmartPharm’s Gene Mab gene-encoded in vivo expression system combined with Sorrento’s SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies is expected to enable longer-acting, single injection protection against the novel coronavirus infection.

Human trials of a second potential Covid-19 vaccine, developed by the Siberian Vector Institute in Russia, will commence on 27 July, according to TASS news agency. A clinical trial of the first vaccine candidate in the country, carried out by the Gamaleya Institute, was completed earlier this month.

A study by a global research team led by Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute has revealed that 21 existing drugs could block the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. An analysis by the researchers identified 100 molecules with confirmed antiviral activity in lab tests and of these 21 were found to be effective at concentrations that were safe in patients. Also, four of the molecules had synergistic activity with Gilead Sciences’ Covid-19 drug candidate remdesivir.