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China has authorised clinical trials on its first vaccine developed to combat the new coronavirus

Russian scientists have also begun to test vaccine prototypes for the new coronavirus

China has authorised clinical trials on its first vaccine developed to combat the new coronavirus, according to a report in the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily.

The researchers are led by Chen Wei, of China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences, it said.  

Russia begins testing potential coronavirus vaccine

Russian scientists have begun to test vaccine prototypes for the new coronavirus, and plan to present the most effective one by June, a laboratory chief at a state biotech institute said.

Russia has reported 93 cases of infection but no deaths, according to official numbers published Tuesday.

“The prototypes have been created. We are starting laboratory testing on animals, to ensure effectiveness and safety,” Ilnaz Imatdinov of the Vector Institute in Siberia told the Vesti Novosibirsk television channel on Monday.

“In June we will present one or two showing the best results.”

Vector Institute is a state virology and biotechnology centre in Novosibirsk, which previously worked on vaccines for the Ebola virus.

According to the state health watchdog, which oversees the institute, Russia has tested about 116,000 people for the coronavirus since March 16.

The country has announced it is closing borders to all foreign nationals beginning Wednesday as part of measures to halt the spread of the virus.

 Takeda sees speedy approval of coronavirus treatment

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. said its plasma-derived therapy against coronavirus currently in development has the potential to be among the first approved treatments for the deadly pathogen.

The Japanese pharmaceutical company could have an edge because the treatment involves a process that already has approval from regulators. The key point in negotiations with regulators for approval is whether it has the necessary concentration of the antibody, or titer, needed to fight the Covid-19 disease, said Julie Kim, Zurich-based president of Takeda’s plasma-derived therapies unit.

The process to manufacture the therapy, using antibodies from recovered patients, is the same as Takeda’s other immunoglobulin products, which have approval from regulatory bodies around the world including the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Kim said.

“We don’t have to demonstrate safety, we just have to agree with the regulatory agencies on how to demonstrate that the titer of antibody present in the final product is sufficient to be effective against the disease,” Kim told Bloomberg in a phone interview. She said the response from the FDA and European Medicines Agency would be key to the timing for approval, which could be as early as in nine months.

Takeda shares rose as much as 1.3% in afternoon trading in Tokyo, erasing an earlier drop of as much as 4.6% amid a broader market rebound.

Takeda is one of many pharmaceutical companies racing to find a treatment for the coronavirus that has swept across the globe, killing more than 7,000. The U.S. has been granting fast-track approvals for drugmakers developing therapies, and Gilead Sciences Inc. and AbbVie Inc. have emerged as front-runners for potential treatments.

A roundtable of pharmaceutical executives told U.S. President Donald Trump this month that antiviral medications could be available for patients in a matter of months. Vaccines, which would prevent healthy people from contracting the disease, are further from reaching doctors’ offices and pharmacy shelves.

Arab observer

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