Mixed findings in coronavirus vaccine trials put China’s Sinovac on back foot

Grant Boone
November 19, 2020

While the early to mid-stage trials were not created to assess the efficacy of the vaccine, known as CoronaVac, researchers said it could provide sufficient protection, based on their experience with other vaccines and data from pre-clinical studies with macaques.

The agreement is subject to the vaccine successfully completing clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, according to Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods. Sinovac did not report any efficiency level.

"We believe that this makes the vaccine suitable for emergency use during the pandemic", Zhu added.

After reporting strong antibody levels in Phase 2 trials, Moderna and Pfizer in recent days announced preliminary Phase 3 efficacy rates above 90 percent, a result greeted with enthusiasm from the medical world.

"This gives us confidence in their ability to develop, manufacture and deliver a safe and effective vaccine".

Researchers said the findings from large, late-stage studies, or phase three trials, would be crucial to determine if the immune response generated by CoronaVac was sufficient to protect people from the coronavirus infection.

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Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil are now in phase 3 trials of CoronaVacwith tens of thousands of participants.

Campbell said Moderna and Pfizer were able to provide early Phase 3 results, in part, because of the escalating coronavirus outbreak in the USA, which has resulted in enough cases of among those enrolled in their study for statistical analysis.

Rutgers University is directly involved with the search for a cure, taking part in one coronavirus vaccine, as well as recruiting people for an important study. The other two are developed by institutes linked to Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm.

While Sinovac had announced a few results from its Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials over the summer, calling them a success, the peer-reviewed study this week was the first time it provided data and details. "(It) would offer some advantages for distribution to regions where access to refrigeration is challenging", he said.

The promising Moderna and Pfizer news bodes well for some of their competitors, said Dr Anthony Fauci, the USA government's top infectious disease expert whose team at NIH helped develop the Moderna candidate.

By contrast, Pfizer's vaccine must be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, but it can be kept in a normal fridge for up to five days. While CoronaVac was produced with tried-and-true methods, the mRNA technology is new, and there hasn't been an mRNA vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration before.

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