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Promising COVID-19 Vaccines Put Pressure on Remaining Trials

Announcements that two vaccines under evaluation would be 90-94.4 percent effective drew relief and excitement from the public

Two of the eleven pharmaceutical and biotechnological found in the last phase from clinical trials of vaccine candidates against COVID-19 have taken the lead and are pressuring the rest to accelerate their studies to enter the list of the first vaccinations to be produced.

Announcements in recent days that two of the vaccines under evaluation would be 90-94.4 percent effective have caused public relief and excitement, forcing the World Health Organization (who) to make clarifications to put his feet on the ground.

WHO chief scientist, Soumya Swaminthan, acknowledged that the preliminary results of the two trials are encouraging, but added that companies must present the final data, which are the only ones that will allow us to determine if the efficacy and safety they promise are in line with reality.

The first to give the starting signal was the American Pfizer, which, associated with the German BioNTech, states that its vaccine is 90 percent effective and that its side effects are the common ones that usually appear with other vaccines as well, particularly swelling and pain at the injection site.

When the euphoria for that news had not yet died, the also American Modern, in collaboration with the United States National Institute of Health, announced intermediate results indicating that its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective, which is significantly high, and that the discomfort it can cause is within normal limits.

However, the WHO recalled that beyond these conditions there are many other factors that must be verified, such as their effect on older people (the highest risk group), since intermediate studies have been carried out in middle-aged groups .

Always based on two doses, it remains to be seen how long the immunity will last and if these vaccines can be administered in people with pre-existing diseases.

Swaminthan considered it premature to state that adverse effects are almost non-existent and that this should be corroborated by following up the volunteers who participated in the trials for at least two and a half more months.

Only when that observation has been completed, companies will be able to request authorization for the marketing of their vaccines, all this if they choose not to skip stages and that the development of the vaccine is rigorously carried out.

The Director of WHO, Tedros Adhanom GhebreyesusIt has also been cautious and has asked not to be complacent as there is fear that countries will lower prevention measures in the belief that one or more vaccines will soon be on the market.

The vaccine Sputnik V, developed in Russia, began to be used in that country, but foreign demand has been practically non-existent. Experts warned that not enough has been proven.

If the deadline mentioned by the WHO chief scientist is respected, the vaccine will not be able to start production before next February, which means that the northern hemisphere will practically have to go through the winter before a vaccine is available.

At that point, an additional challenge is likely to arise in ensuring that the richest countries – most of which already have pre-purchase agreements with the companies conducting the most promising research – allow the poor to receive part of the cost. vaccines.

The challenge is twofold insofar as the vaccines that have been put ahead in this race use new and sophisticated technologies that will inherently make them more expensive than the vaccines to which society is used.

The latter inoculate in the individuals weakened forms of the virus against which they want to fight so that the organism makes antibodies.

The latest technology introduces molecules that contain instructions with which the human body can produce the virus as well as the antibody that neutralizes it.

From the beginning, WHO saw this problem coming and therefore created, in partnership with other public service entities, the platform COVAX, to which middle- and high-income countries contribute a number of vaccines equivalent to 20 percent of their populations, while financing the poorest countries to receive a similar proportion.

This initiative raised two billion dollars and 186 countries joined it, of which 94 fund vaccine research.

However, that figure pales when compared to the 2.5 billion dollars that Moderna received from the United States government for the development of its vaccine, and that is only a part of the public funds that that country – with more than 11 million cases of COVID-19- allocated for this purpose in contracts with various pharmaceutical companies.

In the coming weeks, more news is expected from the rest of the pharmaceutical companies and research centers that are in search of a vaccine and of which four are Chinese: Sinovac, the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, the IBeijing Products Institute In collaboration with Sinopharm, and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology with CanSino Biologics.

There are also India Bharat Biotech, the Russian Gamaleya Research Institute, the signature Janssen (belonging to Jonhnson & Jonhson) and the American Novavax.

With information from .