Research Roundup: Pfizer seeks vaccine EUA, AstraZeneca's phase 3 trial results, and first fully at-home COVID-19 diagnostic
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Pfizer and BioNTech filed on Friday for emergency use authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their COVID-19 vaccine candidate, after data indicated 95 percent efficacy of the vaccine in phase 3 trials. A first look at early phase 3 data had showed the mRNA-based vaccine was more than 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 infection; follow-up numbers released after the trial collected sufficient safety data then showed a 95 percent efficacy rate. The vaccine could receive authorization by the end of the year—allowing distribution to begin in 2020—depending on the speed of the review, according to the CEO of BioNTech. The vaccine developers expect to produce up to 50 million doses of the two-shot regimen in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
New data from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford’s phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial signaled that the candidate has an average efficacy of 70 percent, with a range of 62 to 90 percent in different dosing schemes. Late last week, AstraZeneca and Oxford released results from their phase 2 trial, which showed that the candidate was safe and produced a strong immune response in younger adults and older participants. The developers plan to file for emergency use from regulatory bodies in the United Kingdom and other countries and expect about 3 billion doses to be ready in 2021. The results from Oxford/AstraZeneca’s trial followed announcements by two US-based vaccine efforts—Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—indicating more than 90 percent efficacy of their COVID-19 vaccine candidates in phase 3 trials.
FDA has granted EUA to the first rapid COVID-19 diagnostic able to be performed entirely at home. The test, developed by Lucira Health, requires the user to self-conduct a nasal swab, which is then swirled in a vial of laboratory solution that plugs into a portable device. The rapid result—which is delivered within 30 minutes—is then displayed as a light, labeled positive or negative. Initial use of the single-use test kit will require a prescription, but the company has said it expects the test to be widely available by next spring at a cost of US$50. FDA has authorized emergency use of nearly 300 COVID-19 diagnostics to date, but this will be the first conducted entirely at home, which experts hope will allow quicker quarantining and contact-tracing to combat spread of the virus.