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Covid-19: A cure still elusive, but science may find a way

Countries are emerging from lockdowns even as the fear of a second wave of Covid-19 continues with new spikes seen in China and South Korea. India, too, continues to see new cases and is one of the few countries to witness a rise after substantially relaxing lockdown restrictions. Scientists at drug and vaccine companies are making all efforts towards finding a cure for the pandemic. Divya Rajagopal reports on the developments through this week both in India and across the world:

Panacea Biotech ties up with Refana

New Delhi-based Panacea Biotech has formed a joint venture with Refana, a US-based early stage life sciences company, to develop a whole inactivated virus-based vaccine. The first phase of trials is expected to start in September. The vaccine is expected to be ready for administration within the next 18 months if the first-phase trials are found to be effective.

Bharat Serum to start trials on Sepsis drug

Mumbai-based Bharat Serum and Vaccines (BSVL) will start clinical trials in India on the effectiveness of the generic drug Ulinastatin, used for treating sepsis (septicemia), in addressing the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) common among Covid-19 patients. The company has got approvals from the drug regulator to conduct the third phase of the clinical study on Ulinastatin for patients having mild to moderate symptoms of ARDS. It is expected to conclude by September.

J&J advances vaccine trials
Drug maker J&J has advanced its Covid-19 vaccine trial from September to mid-July based on the strength of its pre-clinical data, according to Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer at J&J. The company expects to deliver its recombinant vaccine Ad26. COV2-S through 2021 provided it is safe and effective.

AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Regeneron explore antibody drugs

Neutralising antibodies are the latest class of drugs being explored. Companies such as AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly and Regeneron have begun work in this field.


said it has licensed coronavirus-neutralising antibodies from Vanderbilt University, US, and plans to advance a pair of these monoclonal antibodies into clinical development as a potential combination therapy.