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health
Thursday Apr 30 2020
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Pfizer, German company BioNTech start human trials of potential coronavirus vaccine

A scientist shows a tube with a solution containing COVID-19 antibodies in their lab where they work on research into novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) antibodies for possible use in a drug at Tsinghua University's Research Center for Public Health in Beijing, China, March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/Files

Trials in humans of a potential coronavirus vaccine have been started by a Germany company in collaboration with US pharmaceutical juggernaut, Pfizer, with the two firms saying it was likely that the drug would be available to millions of people by the end of 2020.

According to CNN, BioNTech — a drug company based in German city of Mainz — has initiated a Phase 1/2 clinical trial and already administered doses of 1µg (microgramme) to 100µg to a group of 200 volunteers, aged 18-55.

"Twelve study participants have been vaccinated with the vaccine candidate BNT162 in Germany since the start of the study on April 23, 2020," the company said, as per the publication. The trial was focused on figuring out the right dosages as well as the vaccine's "safety and immunogenicity".

Pfizer, on the other hand, may be able to start the trials of the potential vaccine, BNT162, as early as next week in the US, if approval comes in time. The said approval was expected soon.

In its first-quarter report published on Tuesday, the drug giant said the collaborators would "jointly conduct clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine candidates initially in Europe and the US, across multiple research sites".

The venture said there was "potential to rapidly scale up the capacity to produce hundreds of millions of doses in 2021".

Last week, Germany's drug regulatory body, the Paul Ehrlich Institute, had green-signaled the trial in human participants, making it Berlin's first for treating COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Around the world, various other companies are doing the same, including Oxford University's Jenner Institute.

"The team, who started work on developing a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 on 20th January 2020 is led by Prof. Sarah Gilbert, Prof. Andrew Pollard, Prof. Teresa Lambe, Dr Sandy Douglas, Prof. Catherine Green and Prof. Adrian Hill," read a description of the vaccine trial on Jenner Institute's website.

Last week, Reuters, citing the study’s lead investigator, had reported that a US government trial of Gilead Sciences Inc’s experimental coronavirus treatment may yield results as early as mid-May. Separately, half a dozen programmes were said to be in the clinical trial phase while over 80 were in a preliminary one, the publication added.