Research Roundup: COVAX renews call for funding and dose sharing, FDA authorizes new monoclonal antibody treatment, and two Sinopharm vaccines appear effective
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Last week, UNICEF signed an agreement with Human Vaccine, a subsidiary of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, for supply of up to 220 million doses of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine. Procurement of the doses will be contingent on the vaccine receiving emergency use listing from the World Health Organization (WHO) and an advance purchase agreement with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, for the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility. The organizations leading COVAX also made an announcement last week renewing the call for funding and vaccine sharing, urging countries to share at least 1 billion doses in 2021. COVAX has so far delivered more than 70 million doses to 126 countries and economies since February, but it will face a shortfall of 190 million doses by the end of June, according to the statement.
The US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized a new monoclonal antibody therapy for patients ages 12 and older with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk for infection. Sotrovimab, developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Vir Biotechnology, reduced risk of hospitalization or death due to COVID-19 by 85 percent in a study of 583 volunteers who had begun experiencing symptoms within the previous five days. It was also shown in laboratory tests to be able to neutralize the virus variants first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, California, New York, and India. The US government has not announced plans to purchase the drug, but the companies expect the drug to become available in the United States in the coming weeks, according to the GSK news release.
Two COVID-19 vaccines made by Sinopharm appear safe and effective, according to results published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The report indicated that the two vaccines, one developed by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and the other by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products, are 73 and 78 percent effective, based on a trial involving approximately 40,380 participants. Follow-up data is continuing to be collected at additional study sites in Egypt and Jordan. The numbers are consistent with results Sinopharm had previously reported in interim analyses. WHO cleared the Beijing Institute of Biological Products’ vaccine for emergency use in early May, and both vaccines have already been distributed and administered globally.