(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Regulators likely to cooperate to speed vaccine approval
Regulators that normally work within their own countries or regions will likely harmonize efforts on potential COVID-19 vaccines to speed up their approvals once they become available, WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Friday.
Swaminathan also said testing vaccines for safety and efficacy – usually a years-long process – could be accelerated to just six months during the pandemic, if data satisfied regulators that they have enough information to issue approvals.
Still, she said, safety would be paramount.
Chinese vaccine candidate shows promise in animal tests
Animal tests of a potential COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Chinese researchers show it triggers an immune response against the novel coronavirus, offering some promise as it goes into early-stage human trials, according to a peer-reviewed study.
ARCoV is a messenger RNA vaccine which uses technology similar to candidates being developed by Moderna and BioNtech and Pfizer. It is the second potential COVID-19 vaccine that China’s military-backed research unit has moved into clinical trials.
Results of trials of ARCoV in mice and monkeys, published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Cell on Thursday, show both single and two-dose inoculations induced strong antibody and T-cell responses against several COVID-19-causing virus strains.
However, researchers conducting the trial cautioned they were not yet able to see how long the ARCoV-induced antibodies might last or how strong their protection might be to other strains that cause COVID-19 but were not tested in the study.
Lonza cites Trump support on Moderna vaccine project
Swiss drugmaker Lonza sees no delays for its project to make Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate and has “strong support” from U.S. President Donald Trump to get the necessary manufacturing equipment, its chairman said.
Chairman Albert Baehny had earlier raised concerns that hiring qualified staff and finding gear like bioreactors on short notice could snarl aggressive goals to begin commercial manufacturing of vaccine ingredients for Moderna.
Lonza is readying production of smaller batches this month for Moderna’s mRNA vaccine trials in 30,000 people.
Baehny told reporters he remains confident he will find workers and the equipment he needs to complete commercial manufacturing facilities this year in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and early next year in Visp, Switzerland.
India reports record 49,000 new coronavirus cases
India reported over 49,000 fresh cases of the novel coronavirus with 740 new deaths on Friday, marking the biggest daily surge in cases even as officials in some states complained of shortages of vital drugs for those hospitalized.
As the number of cases neared 1.3 million in India, local authorities scrambled to procure generic versions of remdesivir, the drug that has shown promise in clinical trials in treating severely-ill patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
India has reported 30,601 deaths from the disease, with more than 40% of these deaths coming from Maharashtra state.
Britain’s home testing dogged by delays
When Rachel Holdsworth developed a fever, she found her nearest coronavirus testing centre was an hour away by foot. So she ordered a home test kit through the National Health Service.
It didn’t arrive for two days. Her sample wasn’t delivered to a laboratory until two days after that. By the time she received the test result in a text message – it was negative – five days had passed.
To expand badly needed COVID-19 testing, the government has bet heavily on home testing, a strategy other countries severely affected by the virus haven’t tried. Home tests are now offered to anyone who exhibits symptoms.
But since it began three months ago, Britain’s home-testing experiment has experienced some significant issues – including delays that experts say can defeat efforts to reduce disease transmission, tens of thousands of delivered test kits that were never returned to laboratories for processing, and kits containing faulty sampling swabs.
(Compiled by Timothy Heritage, editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)