CORONAVIRUS

More COVID-19 Vaccines In The Pipeline As US Effort Ramps Up

Dec 28, 2020, 2:39 PM

FILE (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)...

FILE (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

(AP) – A huge U.S. study of another COVID-19 vaccine candidate got underway Monday as states continue to roll out scarce supplies of the first shots to a nation anxiously awaiting relief from the catastrophic outbreak.

Public health experts say more options in addition to the two vaccines now being dispensed — one made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, the other by Moderna — are critical to amassing enough shots for the country and the world.

The candidate made by Novavax Inc. is the fifth to reach final-stage testing in the U.S. Some 30,000 volunteers are needed to prove if the shot — a different kind than its Pfizer and Moderna competitors — really works and is safe.

“If you want to have enough vaccine to vaccinate all the people in the U.S. who you’d like to vaccinate — up to 85% or more of the population — you’re going to need more than two companies,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press on Monday.

The coronavirus is blamed for about 1.8 million deaths worldwide, including more than 330,000 in the U.S. This has been the deadliest month of the outbreak in the U.S. yet, with about 65,000 deaths in December so far, according to the COVID Tracking Project. The nation has repeatedly recorded more than 3,000 dead per day over the past few weeks.

And the U.S. could be facing a terrible winter: Despite warnings to stay home and avoid others over Christmastime, nearly 1.3 million people went through the nation’s airports on Sunday, the highest one-day total since the crisis took hold in the U.S. nine months ago.

The Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed expects to have shipped 20 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to states by the beginning of January, fewer than originally estimated to the frustration of states and health officials trying to schedule the shots.

There is no real-time tracking of how quickly people are getting the first of the two required doses. As of Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reports of more than 1.9 million vaccinations, out of more than 9.5 million doses shipped — but the agency knows that count is outdated. It can take days for reports from vaccine providers to trickle in and get added to the site.

“Just because a vaccine arrives doesn’t mean we can put an on-the-spot clinic up and running,” said Jenny Barta, a public health official in Carlton County, Minnesota.

But Tuesday, her agency aims to vaccinate 100 people in a drive-thru clinic for emergency medical workers that Barta hopes could become a model for larger attempts at mass vaccination. Nurses will wheel vaccine to cars lined up in a county-owned snowplow garage. Once the drivers get their shots, they will wait in parking spaces to be sure they don’t have an allergic reaction before heading home.

“Vaccinating one individual at a time is how we’re going to work our way out of this pandemic,” she said.

Yet another worry hanging over the vaccine scramble: Will shots block a new variant of the coronavirus that emerged in Britain and appears to spread more easily? Fauci said that there is no evidence it could outsmart the vaccine and that National Institutes of Health researchers will be “looking at it very intensively” to be sure.

A look at the frontrunners in the global vaccine race:

Genetic Code Vaccines

The U.S. based its emergency rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and a similar one made by Moderna and the NIH on studies suggesting they are both roughly 95% effective. Europe over the weekend began its first vaccinations with the Pfizer shot, and on Jan. 6 will decide whether to add Moderna’s.

These shots are made with a brand-new technology that injects a piece of genetic code for the spike protein that coats the coronavirus. That messenger RNA, or mRNA, induces the body to produce some harmless spike protein, enough to prime the immune system to react if it later encounters the real virus.

Both vaccines must be kept frozen, the Pfizer shot at ultra-low temperatures that complicate its delivery to poor or rural areas.

Additional companies are working toward their own mRNA candidates, including Germany’s CureVac, which has begun a large study in Europe.

Protein Vaccines

The Novavax candidate is made differently, using what Fauci called a “more tried and true” technology that needs only ordinary refrigeration. The Maryland company grows harmless copies of the coronavirus spike protein in the laboratory and mixes in an immune-boosting chemical.

Novavax already has enrolled 15,000 people in a late-stage study in Britain and 4,000 in South Africa. The newest and largest study, funded by the U.S. government, will recruit volunteers at more than 115 sites in the U.S. and Mexico and target high-risk older adults along with volunteers from Black and Hispanic communities, which have been hit hard by the virus.

“We’ve got to protect our community and our people,” said the Rev. Peter Johnson, 75, a prominent civil rights activist in Dallas who was among the first volunteers.

Two-thirds of participants will receive vaccine and the rest dummy shots, a twist from earlier vaccine studies that gave half their volunteers a placebo. That should help researchers recruit people who wonder whether it’s better to take part in a study or wait their turn for an existing shot, said Dr. Gregory Glenn, research chief at Novavax.

For many people, that would be a long wait: The Pfizer and Moderna shots are slated first for health care workers and nursing home residents, followed by people 75 and older and essential workers.

“If you wanted to hedge your bets, for most people who aren’t in those very high-risk groups, the shortest route to getting the vaccine would be to sign up for a trial,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins.

Trojan Horse Vaccines

The next big vaccine news may come from Johnson & Johnson, which is aiming for a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine.

Made in yet another way, it uses a harmless virus – a cold virus called an adenovirus — to carry the spike gene into the body. In mid-December, J&J finished enrolling about 45,000 volunteers in a final-stage study in the U.S. and a half-dozen other countries. Fauci expects early results sometime next month.

In Britain, regulators also are considering clearing a similar vaccine made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

Tests of the shots in Britain, South Africa and Brazil suggested they are safe and partially protective — about 70%. But questions remain about how well the vaccine works in people over 55 and how to interpret results from a small number of people given a different set of doses.

A U.S. study of the AstraZeneca shots is still recruiting volunteers; Fauci said researchers hope it will provide a more clear answer.

Companies in China and Russia also are producing adenovirus-based vaccines and began administering them before the results of final testing came in. Argentina is expected to soon use the Russian vaccine.

“Killed” Vaccines

Spike-focused vaccines aren’t the only option. Making vaccines by growing a disease-causing virus and then killing it is a still older approach that gives the body a sneak peek at the germ itself rather than just that single spike protein.

China has three such “inactivated” COVID-19 vaccines in final testing in several countries and has allowed emergency use in some people ahead of results. An Indian company is testing its own inactivated candidate.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

KSL 5 TV Live

Coronavirus

Deer Creek Reservoir...

Alex Cabrero

State parks expecting another record visitation year, hiring more workers

It didn't matter how cold or snowy it was at Deer Creek State Park Friday afternoon. Nothing was going to stop Leonard Sawyer from taking his boat out to do a little fishing.

11 days ago

FILE —  Respiratory virus illness activity continues to increase across the US.
(Joe Burbank/Orl...

Emma Benson

‘Not viruses to mess around with’: Experts urge caution during ongoing ‘tripledemic’

Experts say though not as severe as last year, this winter we're seeing another "tripledemic" – rising cases of COVID-19, flu and RSV in Utah.

2 months ago

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Emma Benson

‘The ICUs are full:’ Keep yourself and others healthy this holiday

It's time for holiday gatherings, but with more people around us comes a greater risk of getting sick.

2 months ago

Julianna Preece goes through the mountain of medical documents she's acquired for her health condit...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Herriman couple is suing CVS, says 5x Covid vaccine dose mistake caused health problems

A couple is suing a Utah CVS vaccination clinic, saying a nurse’s mistake led to the wife receiving five times the normal COVID-19 vaccine dose and caused serious health issues she’s still dealing with today.

3 months ago

FILE - COVID-19 antigen home tests. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Associated Press

More free COVID-19 tests from the government are available for home delivery through the mail

Americans can order more free COVID-19 tests online for home delivery.

3 months ago

FILE - Doses of the anti-viral drug Paxlovid are displayed in New York, Aug. 1, 2022. The COVID-19 ...

Amanda Seitz, Associated Press

COVID-19 treatments to enter the market with a hefty price tag

The COVID-19 treatments millions of have taken for free from the federal government will enter the private market next week with a hefty price tag.

4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

More COVID-19 Vaccines In The Pipeline As US Effort Ramps Up