Ask Dr.Nandi: New hope for coronavirus treatment and vaccines

Posted at 5:41 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 19:55:59-04

(WXYZ) — Is it possible a vaccine for the coronavirus could be ready as early as this fall? Currently, there are 7 candidates in clinical evaluation according to the World Health Organization. And two have jumped way ahead of the others.

It’s okay to be cautiously optimistic. But please keep in mind that when it comes to science, what works in the lab doesn’t always work in humans.

Now, one of these potential vaccines has shown promise in animal studies. Researchers at Oxford University in the U.K. have tested their experimental vaccine in 6 monkeys. And after exposing them to the virus, 28 days later, all of them were healthy.

Now, this is encouraging news because monkeys are the closest animal to human beings. But again, there is no guarantee it will work as well in humans. We’ll know more soon enough as the researchers plan to test it out in more than 6,000 people by the end of next month. I

f all goes well, the Oxford scientists believe they could have millions of their vaccine ready to go as early as September. And that’s because the drugmakers plan to start producing it as early next month. Even before the potential vaccine has proven it can work.

The other experimental vaccine is by a biotech company in Germany that is working with Pfizer, the US pharmaceutical corporation in New York City. Their potential vaccine is called BNT162. So far, it’s been given to 12 participants in Germany, and around 200 volunteers are expected to take part. No results have been released yet, but the companies estimate that if all goes as planned, they could potentially have millions of the vaccine ready to go by the end of the year.

Now, you asked how would we know which one is the best? Well, clinical trial data will show us how successful the potential vaccines are. And, it’s actually fine to have different vaccines because one might work more effectively in different age groups, like the elderly or young children.

There are many companies working on a wide range of investigational therapies. Some are focused on experimental drugs, others are developing potential antibodies to treat COVID-19. Some are honing in on certain symptoms like Actemra, a rheumatoid arthritis drug that is currently in stage 3 testing for COVID-19 patients who have severe pneumonia. Others are focused on easing fevers and the need for supplemental oxygen like Kevzara, a drug initially developed as a therapy for rheumatoid arthritis.

But at this moment, the leading hope for a coronavirus treatment is Remidisvir. And Gilead Sciences said today that they are “aware of positive data” regarding a federal study. No other details have been released but I expect we’ll hear more very soon.

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