We're Live Bangla Saturday, October 24, 2020

BANGLADESHI COVID-19 VACCINE ADDED TO WHO CANDIDATE LIST

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed the Covid-19 vaccine developed by a Bangladeshi pharmaceutical company, Globe Biotech.

Globe's vaccine was listed on the WHO's draft landscape of Covid-19 candidate vaccines on 15 October.

"It is a matter of immense pride for all Bangladeshis to have the Globe vaccine listed on the WHO website. Because the name that came is Globe Biotech Limited, Bangladesh," said Dr Kakon Nag, Globe Biotech's chief executive officer.

"This is the first time we have seen the name of Bangladesh on the WHO's list for the invention of the vaccine," he told The Business Standard.

Asked when they would apply to the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) for the Globe vaccine's human trial, Dr Kakon Nag said, "Our CROs are working on their own in this regard. They will apply to the BMRC for the human trial when they reach the milestone.

"We hope to finish everything quickly and apply for the trial," he added.

However, the Globe's claim of making the vaccine available on the market by December or early January has raised the eyebrows of health experts who have said it is impossible to ready it by completing the required three-stage trials within such a short time.

According to the WHO's draft list of possible vaccines for the novel coronavirus, 198 different vaccines are being developed in various countries.

Of the vaccines, 156 have been going through a preclinical evaluation and 42 others a clinical evaluation. Ten of them have been undergoing Phase 3 trials which are the late-stage clinical trials and determine both the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.

Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Sinopharm, and the Murdoch Children's Research Institute have been ahead in the race for final approval for their vaccines.

The candidature of the Globe Biotech vaccine has been shown on the WHO list as a DNA plasmid type vaccine at the preclinical stage.

In a press release, Globe Biotech said it is the only company, globally, to be listed with three vaccine candidates – DNA plasmid vaccine, Adenovirus Type 5 Vector and D614G variant LNP-encapsulated mRNA.

Earlier, the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) announced it would hold a human trial of BANCOVID, a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Globe Biotech.

On Wednesday, icddr,b signed a memorandum of understanding with the company to conduct the trial.

On 2 July, Globe Biotech announced it was developing a Covid-19 vaccine as it had completed preliminary animal trials successfully.

On 5 October, it said they had received "very promising" results from the pre-clinical trials on rabbits and mice.

The company said BANCOVID would hit the market in late December or early January next year if the government is fully supportive.

However, experts have expressed surprise at the Globe's claim.

"Do they have a magic wand? Will they ready the vaccine by December just by its touch?" asked Dr Muniruddin Ahmed, a professor at the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology of the University of Dhaka.

"It is October now. How will it be possible to complete three-stage trials of the vaccine, data collection and analyses, plus a peer review in an international journal in just two months? How can this claim be termed scientifically correct?" he added.

The clinical trial is very lengthy, critical and important as well, he added.

"We hope the Globe Biotech's initiative to develop a [novel] coronavirus vaccine sees success. But it is not possible to do so through exaggeration and unrealistic claims," he commented.