EVENTS

Pharmacovigilance partners meeting at Nirman Bhawan , New Delhi

2020-02-25

Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI) 2.0 Round 4

2020-03-02 to 2020-03-23

National AEFI Committee Meeting (NACM), NIHFW, Delhi

2020-03-16

Training of Cold Chain Technicians on Repair & Maintenance of WIC/WIF at NCCVMRC, NIHFW, New Delhi

2020-03-16 to 2020-03-21

Assam EVM Assessment

2020-02-18 to 2020-02-29

National Causality Assessment meeting at LHMC New Delhi

2020-02-28

Review to understand equity- & gender-related issues in Immunization and waste management practices

2020-02-24 to 2020-02-28

WEEKLY NEWS

The first coronaviruses known to infect humans were discovered more than half a century ago – so why are there no vaccines against these viruses? Should we be optimistic that an effective vaccine will be developed now? SARS-CoV-2, the recently discovered coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is similar enough to other coronaviruses, so scientists make predictions about how our immune system might deal with it. But its novelty warrants its own careful study. Similar to Sars and Mers that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome, the novel coronavirus has emerged from animals and can cause damage to the lungs and sometimes other organs.

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A closely watched coronavirus vaccine being developed by scientists at Oxford University appears protective in a small study of six monkeys, promising findings that led to the start of human trials late last month, U.S. and British researchers reported on Thursday. The preliminary findings, which have not undergone rigorous review by other scientists, appeared on the preprint server bioRxiv on Thursday. British drugmaker AstraZeneca last month announced it had teamed up with researchers at the Oxford Vaccine Group and the Jenner Institute, which are developing the vaccine. According to the report, some of the monkeys given a single shot of the vaccine developed antibodies against the virus within 14 days, and all developed protective antibodies within 28 days, before being exposed to high doses of the virus.

 

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The hunt for a cure for the novel coronavirus is underway as researchers work at whirlwind speed to find safe vaccines and medicines against the dreaded virus. More than 100 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are in various stages of development with a handful of them already in early human trials – three coronavirus vaccines in phase 2 clinical trials. Xu Qiang, head of the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission, said that three coronavirus vaccines have entered phase 2 clinical trials in China. Developing a safe, effective vaccine is a long, complex process, which takes 10-15 years and a billion dollars to make. Various health experts have warned that a COVID-19 vaccine will not be ready for widespread use until next year. Yet, the World Health Organization (WHO) had revealed that work on 7-8 ‘top’ COVID-19 vaccines is being accelerated. Five months into the global pandemic, here’s what we know about the top 8 contenders for COVID-19 vaccine.

 

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World AIDS Vaccine Day, also known as HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, is marked every year on May 18. The day aims to spread awareness about the urgent need for a safe, effective and affordable AIDS vaccine. It is also observed to acknowledge and thank thousands of volunteers, community members, health professionals, supporters and scientists working together to find a vaccine to prevent HIV. Today, the world is battling the novel coronavirus for which researchers are working tirelessly to find a safe vaccine to beat the dreaded virus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 37.9 million people in the world are living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2018, and about 770 000 people have died of HIV-related illnesses worldwide in the same year. WHO data showed that 75 million people have been infected with the HIV virus since the beginning of the epidemic and about 32 million people have died of HIV. Yet, despite many trials of possible vaccines, a safe and effective preventive vaccine, which is key to ending the HIV pandemic, is still not available.

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Reiterating that India, which supplies vaccines for various diseases to about 150 countries, is truly a global vaccine hub, 14 big government-backed projects — by both private firms and academic institutions — are leading the country’s Covid-19 vaccine hunt. Spread across eight cities from eight different states, one of these projects has entered the trial stage, while another four are in advanced stages, the department of biotechnology (DBT) and department of science and technology (DST) have confirmed to TOI. While the PMO has announced Rs 100 crore for various vaccine programmes in the country through PMCARES, both DBT and DST could not immediately confirm if these 14 projects are to be funded as part of this money. “The screening for these projects has already been done, we are unsure at this stage if the money will come from the announcement made by the PM, or these projects will be funded as planned earlier through other schemes,” one official said.

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The first polio vaccine wouldn’t be approved for widespread use until 1955, so families had to white-knuckle their way through the polio epidemics the way we’re coping with COVID-19 —taking precautions and hoping for better days ahead. “Communities reacted with dread because no one understood how or why people got (polio), and because children were the most frequently affected,” says the “American Epidemics” section of the Smithsonian Institution website, amhistory.si.edu. About two-thirds of the sufferers were children, and the rest were mostly young adults.

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As the search for a cure for the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 heats up across the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday revealed that there are about seven to eight ‘top’ candidate vaccines for COVID-19. The UN health body said more funds are required to help speed up the development of these vaccines, which will help overcome the global pandemic. Earlier, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said that it will take at least 12 to 18 months to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

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Nations around the world have closed their borders and ordered a strict lockdown in order to avoid further pressure on the already overwhelmed medical care system. With more than 4.1 million cases globally and close to 283,876 fatalities, the COVID-19 graph continues to rise. At the same time, scientists and researchers across the globe are racing against the time to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. As of now, almost 100 research groups are working round the clock to develop a potential vaccine for COVID-19.

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India formally entered the global race to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus over the weekend, with the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) tying up with the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech to develop “a fully indigenous vaccine” for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new virus. In a statement, ICMR, a government-run biomedical research body, said it has managed to isolate a strain of the novel coronavirus at its Pune-based National Institute of Virology and that the strain has been transferred to Bharat Biotech. CMR and Bharat Biotech will now work on developing a vaccine based on the isolate virus strain with the Pune lab providing “continuous support” to the Hyderabad-based company. 

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The lockdown has brought many things to a standstill. The health sector has been reorienting itself for a while now, to keep up its fight against the crisis, while also making sure other services go on normally. Among other things, it is being said that India will see a rise in delayed vaccination cases as a large number of children remain unvaccinated/partially vaccinated. While vaccinations are fundamental to one’s health and life, it is imperative to understand that the delay in vaccination caused by the current lockdown due to COVID-19 is unavoidable.

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