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AstraZeneca voluntarily pauses clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. 

AstraZeneca recently announced that they have voluntarily paused its late-stage global trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate due to an unexplained illness in a study participant.

The vaccine candidate, developed along with the University of Oxford, has been described by the World Health Organization as one of the world’s leading candidates in the COVID-19 vaccine race and the most advanced in terms of development.

The recent suspension delays prospects for an early fast-track approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The company voluntarily paused trials to allow an independent committee to review the efficacy data and will be working to expedite the review to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline.

(Source: Yahoo News, 2020)

Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate appears safe yet slightly weaker in elderly.

Sinovac Biotech recently said that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate has been deemed to be safe for the older aged demographic based on preliminary results from an early to mid-stage trial, although the immune responses induced by the vaccine were seen slightly weaker than younger adults.

Sinovac’s candidate CoronaVac did not cause severe side effects in a combined Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials conducted back in May involving 421 participants aged at least 60.

For three groups of participants who respectively took two shots of low, medium and high-dose CoronaVac, over 90% of them experienced significant increase in antibody levels, while the levels were slightly lower than those seen in younger subjects but is within expectation.

CoronaVac, being tested in Brazil and Indonesia in the final-stage human trials to evaluate its efficacy and safety to obtain regulatory approvals for mass usage.

(Source: Reuters, 2020)

India’s biggest syringe maker ramps up production to meet COVID-19 vaccine demand.

India’s biggest syringe manufacturer, Hindustan Syringes is ramping up production as it anticipates a surge in demand as the global race to find a COVID-19 vaccine rise.

While the focus on tackling the pandemic has mostly been on the development of vaccines, experts say medical essentials to administer them are also vital.

Hindustan Syringes said that it is increasing its output of auto-disable devices (which prevent re-use) from 700 million a year to 1 billion by 2021 to meet the expected demand in the industry.

Currently, UNICEF has ordered 140 million syringes from Hindustan for COVAX, its global initiative aimed at ensuring a more equal distribution of vaccines to developing countries.

(Source: Channel News Asia, 2020)