Coronavirus Vaccine: Life-saving Dexamethasone, Patanjali’s “Coronil”

Nearly six months have passed since we heard about the first detected case of coronavirus in Wuhan, China. Soon enough, it spread globally, infecting close to 8 million people and killing many. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies world over are taking significant strides to find a viable vaccine for treating COVID-19 patients. Scientists have paced up their research to identify and test possible vaccines for SARS CoV-2 the virus that causes COVID-19 amid increasing cases by the day. Here are all the recent updates on coronavirus vaccine you need to know:

Patanjali launches Coronil

Herbal medicine company Patanjali Ayurved, on Tuesday, launched ‘Coronil’ and ‘Swasari’, its Ayurvedic medicines claiming to treat COVID-19 patients within 14 days. “We conducted a clinical case study and clinical controlled trial and found 69 per cent of patients recovered in 3 days and 100 patients recovered in 7 days,” Baba Ramdev said at the medicine’s launch in Haridwar.

He also highlighted that all required approvals for conducting vaccine trials on patients had been taken from competent authorities. The Corona kit, containing both medicines, will be sold for Rs 545, said Acharya Balkrishna, chief executive officer of Patanjali.

Dexamethasone emerges as a life-saving drug against COVID-19

Commonly used anti-inflammatory steroid drug, Dexamethasone emerged as one of the first life-saving drugs against COVID-19. A mid-scale study conducted in the UK found out that the drug, when prescribed to patients severely ill from the pandemic was able to cut down the mortality rate by 1/3rd in those on ventilation support. The research was hailed as a potential breakthrough by several experts, even as the pressure to start using the drug as part of standard prescription in hospitals grew. The research body involved in the trial was the same one which found evidence that HCQ (Hydroxychloroquine) was not extremely effective on all COVID positive patients.

The preliminary findings were appreciated by the WHO and doctors. However, dexamethasone found to be incredibly effective in severe cases of COVID-19, did not show the same effect on those suffering from milder symptoms. Further research and study are still needed before we pin our hopes on the same.

Glenmark’s drug Favipiravir launched in Indian market

Mumbai-based Glenmark Pharmaceuticals has become the first Indian company to launch an antiviral drug-Favipiravir under brand name FabiFlu, to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 patients. The drug will be sold at retail chemist outlets as well as hospitals across India after the company secured drug regulator Drug Controller General of India’s (DCGI) approval to manufacture and market Favipiravir in India. The drug is priced at Rs 103 per tablet and Rs 3,500 for a pack of 34 tablets.

Russia begins human clinical trials of its innovative vaccine

The Russian Health Ministry has said clinical trials of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus have begun in the country. The two forms of the vaccine — liquid and powder — developed by the Moscow-based Gamaleya research institute will be tested on two groups of volunteers involving 38 people each.

Russia’s news agency TASS quoted Director of Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology professor Alexander Gintsburg as saying that the trials would take about 1.5 months.

Professor Gintsburg had earlier said that mass vaccination against the novel coronavirus may begin in Russia this fall, although the process might take up to nine months.

The Gamaleya institute was in the spotlight last month when Gintsburg stated that he and other researchers had tried the vaccine on themselves before the start of human studies and no one experienced any side effects.

 Pfizer-BNTECH coronavirus vaccine

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which is co-producing a Covid-19 vaccine with the help of German company BNTECH, has started the process of dosing patients. Four vaccine candidates based on messenger RNA (mRNA) format are being tested on volunteers. The tests are currently going on in Germany and parts of the US.

Pfizer believes that a Covid-19 vaccine could be ready by the end of October 2020, according to The Times of Israel, which has cited Albert Bourla, the CEO of the firm.

“If things go well, and the stars are aligned, we will have enough evidence of safety and efficacy so that we can…have a vaccine around the end of October,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said.

Hetero, Cipla get nod to manufacture, market antiviral drug Remdesivir

India’s Drug Regulator on June 20 gave permission to Hetero and Cipla to manufacture and market antiviral drug Remdesivir for “restricted emergency use” on hospitalised COVID-19 patients. This comes after the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) granted domestic firm Glenmark Pharmaceuticals permission to manufacture and market Favipiravir for “restricted emergency use” in mild to moderate cases. Hetero’s generic version of Remdesivir will be marketed under the brand name ‘COVIFOR’ in India, as per the company’s press release.

GlaxoSmithKline-Clover Biopharmaceuticals, Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca, Pfizer

British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, in partnership with Chinese company Clover Biopharmaceuticals, has started human tests. Initial results from the study are likely to come out in August, following which a larger efficacy trial is expected to begin later in 2020, Glaxo said in a statement.

Biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms comprising Moderna Inc, and AstraZeneca, have been accelerating the pace of their production, promising millions of supplies of their experimental vaccines before the year-end. Last month, global drug firm Pfizer said that a vaccine to treat COVID-19 patients could be ready by October-end.

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