COVID-19 vaccines could be ready this year, plus other top news


Popular heartburn medication now in shortage due to COVID-19 test.

The first COVID-19 vaccine candidates could be ready as early as this fall, according to vaccine developers.

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford said they are working together to distribute the University’s potential recombinant adenovirus vaccine aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection from SARS-CoV-2.

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“Our hope is that, by joining forces, we can accelerate the globalization of a vaccine to combat the virus and protect people from the deadliest pandemic in a generation,” said AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot in a press release.

The potential vaccine entered Phase I clinical trials in late April at five centers in Southern England. Data from the Phase I trial could be available next month, while advancement to late-stage trials should take place by the middle of this year, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford said.

Similarly, BioNTech and Pfizer Inc. are moving quickly on a COVID-19 vaccine. Twelve study participants were dosed with vaccine candidate BNT162 in Germany since dosing began April 23.

“The trial is the first clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate in Germany. Pfizer and BioNTech plan to initiate trials for BNT162 in the U.S. upon regulatory approval, which is expected shortly,” the two companies said in a press release.

However, Pfizer and BioNTech did not say when they expect their vaccine candidate to be ready for manufacturing.

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In other major COVID-19 news:

- Amazon, Walgreens, and CVS are facing shortages of famotidine, the active ingredient in Pepcid AC and other heartburn medications after a clinical trial on the ingredient was launched.

Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, NY, is testing famotidine intravenously, at nine times the typical dose.

“Unlike other drugs the 23-hospital system is testing, including Regeneron’s sarilumab and Gilead Sciences’s remdesivir, Northwell kept the famotidine study under wraps to secure a research stockpile before other hospitals, or even the federal government, started to buy it,” Science magazine reported.

On Amazon, Pepcid AC and all three of its generic versions were unavailable or out of stock as of April 27, Business Insider reported. Walgreens also showed out-of-stock notices at most locations across the U.S.

- FDA issued Emergency Use Authorization for Roche’s Elecsys® Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody test. The test is designed to help determine if a patient has been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and if the patient has developed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the pharma maker said in a press release.

“Roche has already started shipping the new antibody test to leading laboratories globally and will ramp up production capacity to high double-digit millions per month to serve healthcare systems in countries accepting the CE mark2 as well as the U.S.,” Roche said.

With extensive global manufacturing capabilities, Roche will be able to deliver high double-digit millions of tests per month, it added. “Hospitals and reference laboratories can run the test on Roche’s cobas e analysers, which are widely available around the world.”

Read more: Another RA drug starts testing to treat COVID-19

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