Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 2
While diplomats are still to catch their breath after evacuating their stranded nationals, the Covid epidemic has broken down borders among scientists who are setting an equally frenetic pace to coordinating research among public minded research institutes for a vaccine.
Though several drug corporate have promised to bankroll research in finding a vaccine for Covid, hopes rest on state-funded institutions such as Pasteur Institute and Center Inserm of France, US National Institutes of Health, Research Council of Norway and the Department of Biotechnology, India.
The global pharma majors, after having burnt their fingers in finding a vaccine for Ebola, are not too enthusiastic on going all out for another vaccine because Covid virus is also expected to be too short-lived for them to recoup their expenditure on R&D.
The lead this time has been taken by the World Health Organisation which is arranging for at least one major virtual conference daily on Covid research. WHO is now carrying out a major international study which will involve tests of three drug treatments, with both malaria and Ebola medicines involved, on patients from Norway and Spain.
Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, a Norway-based organisation financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a few governments, is talking to Serum Institute of India, one of world’s largest manufacturers of vaccine in the world.
According to John-Arne Røttingen, chief of the highly respected Research Council of Norway, it will take at least three months for the trials to be completed and only then can a medicine be approved.
“This is a big, international study including several countries that can include patients simultaneously so the world gets quick results. We don’t know how long that will take, maybe in two-three months we can get first results from the data, but that depends on the effect,’’ says Røttingen whose institute was part of a global coalition, including US and India, that produced the Rotavirus vaccine, that has helped reduce infant deaths and hospitalisations due to gastroenteritis.
This coalition may be getting reactivated to start phase one clinical trial of an investigational vaccine.
The French public-health research Center Inserm is sponsoring clinical trials on four drugs which will be extended to other nations, including India. Though the Chinese are receiving political flak for concealing the information about the spread of virus, scientists elsewhere are grateful for a Chinese laboratory making public the initial viral genome which enabled Covid tests to be conducted all over the world.
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