COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Explained: How obesity impairs body’s ability to fight Covid infection – The Indian Express

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: September 5, 2020 7:53:50 am

Obesity can make it more difficult to fight a Covid-19 infection, according to a manuscript published in Endocrinology, the journal of the international medical organisation Endocrine Society. (Photo: Reuters)
Obesity can make it more difficult to fight a Covid-19 infection, according to a manuscript published in Endocrinology, the journal of the international medical organisation Endocrine Society. It says obesity can cause a hyperactive immune system response to Covid-19 infection, which makes it difficult to fight off the virus.
Obesity is known to lead to problems like heart disease and diabetes, and also to influence the immune system in many ways. For example, obesity causes a chronic activation of some parts of the immune system. When someone with this pre-existing condition is faced with an infection, this could lead to the immune system becoming hyperactive — in a detrimental way that does not fight infection.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has made us aware of the complex interactions of obesity with infectious diseases, and the gaps in our understanding of how chronic health conditions affect our immune responses to acute infection,” the study’s corresponding author, Durga Singer of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said in a statement.

“Recent evidence has highlighted how one part of the immune system, the macrophage, may be a culprit in driving severe Covid-19 disease. Our manuscript focuses on what is already known about the interaction of obesity, macrophages and other infections like influenza. These findings highlight the importance of understanding how obesity might interact with new drugs or vaccines that are developed for Covid-19,” Singer said.
The paper describes immune responses caused by obesity that drive organ injury in severe Covid-19 infection, and impair ability to fight the virus.

Source: Endocrine Society

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No widespread coronavirus vaccination before mid-2021 – WHO – Manila Bulletin

The World Health Organization said Friday, September 4, it did not expect widespread immunization against the novel coronavirus until mid-2021, despite growing expectations in the US and beyond that a vaccine could be released within weeks.
Across the world, governments are hoping to announce a vaccine as soon as possible and roll out treatments for COVID-19, which has killed nearly 870,000 people and infected well over 26 million.
The UN health agency welcomed the fact that a “considerable number” of vaccine candidates had entered final stage Phase III trials, which typically involve tens of thousands of people.
“We know of at least 6 to 9 that have got quite a long way with the research already,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters in Geneva.
However, she stressed, “in terms of realistic timelines, we are really not expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year.”
Under normal procedures, test administrators must wait for months or years to verify that vaccine candidates are safe and efficacious.
But as the pandemic continues to take a devastating toll, there has been massive pressure to roll out a vaccine quickly.
It was revealed this week that Washington has urged US states to get ready for a potential coronavirus vaccine rollout by November 1, sparking concerns President Donald Trump’s administration is rushing to begin distributing a vaccine before the November 3 elections.
The US Food and Drug Administration has also raised the possibility that a vaccine might be given emergency authorization before the end of trials.
The FDA has faced allegations from the medical community, which it has denied, that it is bowing to political pressure from Trump, who is trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the polls.
No cutting corners
The worry is that, for emergency use approval, the bar for ruling a vaccine safe and effective is lower than that for normal full approvals.
Several pharmaceutical company executives stressed Thursday, September 3, the importance of sticking to high testing norms, vowing not to cut corners on safety and efficacy standards, even as they race to bring coronavirus vaccines and treatments to market.
“The good news is the manufacturers are already putting bets on which one is likely to be the vaccine,” Harris said.
Many were “already working out how they can scale up production of vaccines once we know which one are the ones we will roll out,” she said.
According to the WHO, 34 vaccine candidates worldwide are currently in the various phases of being tested on humans, while a further 142 are in pre-clinical evaluation.
Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, told reporters earlier this week that the UN agency was working with experts around the world, including at the FDA, to clarify the criteria for declaring a vaccine candidates safe and efficacious.
“We’d like to see a vaccine with at least 50% efficacy, preferably higher,” she said. 

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Coronavirus: Russian vaccine shows signs of immune response – BBC News

Related TopicsCoronavirus pandemic

image copyrightReuters

Russian scientists have published the first report on their coronavirus vaccine, saying early tests showed signs of an immune response.
The report published by medical journal The Lancet said every participant developed antibodies to fight the virus and had no serious side effects.
Russia licensed the vaccine for local use in August, the first country to do so and before data had been published.
Experts say the trials were too small to prove effectiveness and safety.
But Moscow has hailed the results as an answer to critics. Some Western experts have raised concerns about the speed of Russia’s work, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners.
Last month, President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine had passed all the required checks and that one of his own daughters had been given it.

What does the report say?

Two trials of the vaccine, named Sputnik-V, were conducted between June and July, The Lancet paper said. Each involved 38 healthy volunteers who were given a dose of the vaccine and then a booster vaccine three weeks later.
The participants – aged between 18 and 60 – were monitored for 42 days and all of them developed antibodies within three weeks. Among the most common side effects were headaches and joint pain.
The trials were open label and not randomised, meaning there was no placebo and the volunteers were aware they were receiving the vaccine.
“Large, long-term trials including a placebo comparison, and further monitoring are needed to establish the long-term safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for preventing Covid-19 infection,” the report said.

A third phase of trials will involve 40,000 volunteers from “different age and risk groups,” according to the paper.
The Russian vaccine uses adapted strains of the adenovirus, a virus that usually causes the common cold, to trigger an immune response.

Still a long way to go
By Philippa Roxby, BBC health reporter
“Encouraging” and “so far so good” are some of the reactions from scientists in the UK – but there is still, clearly, a long way to go. Although the vaccine showed an antibody response in all participants in phase 2, this does not necessarily mean it would protect them from the virus. That still has not been established yet.
From these results, we can tell that the vaccine appeared to be safe in healthy people between the age of 18 and 60 for 42 days, because that was how long the study lasted. But what about older people and those with underlying health conditions who are most at risk of Covid-19 – how safe is it for them and over a longer period of time?
This can only be answered after much larger, long-term randomised trials where the people taking part do not know if they are receiving the vaccine or a dummy injection. These will also tell scientists how effective the vaccine really is among a much wider population.
There have also been calls for openness and transparency. Of the many vaccines currently being trialled around the world, some will work better than others in certain situations and in certain groups of people, perhaps. So knowing exactly how well they work and for whom is paramount – it is unlikely that one vaccine will be suitable for everyone.

What has the reaction been?
Kirill Dmitriev, head of a Russian investment fund behind the vaccine, said during a news conference that the report was “a powerful response to the sceptics who unreasonably criticised the Russian vaccine”.
He said that 3,000 people had already been recruited for the next phase of trials.
Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said the country would start vaccinations from November or December, with a focus on high-risk groups.

But experts warned that there was still a long way to go until a vaccine could enter the market.
Brendan Wen, Professor of Microbial Pathogenesis at London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told Reuters news agency: “The report is a case of ‘so far, so good'”.
According to the World Health Organization, there are 176 potential vaccines currently being developed worldwide. Of those, 34 are currently being tested on people. Among those, eight are at stage three, the most advanced.

Related Topics

More on this story

Russia vaccine ‘passes early trial test’ – ABS-CBN News

LONDON – Patients involved in early tests of a Russian coronavirus vaccine developed antibodies with “no serious adverse events”, according to research published in The Lancet Friday, but experts said the trials were too small to prove safety and effectiveness.
Russia announced last month that its vaccine, named “Sputnik V” after the Soviet-era satellite that was the first launched into space in 1957, had already received approval. 
This raised concerns among Western scientists over a lack of safety data, with some warning that moving too quickly on a vaccine could be dangerous. 
Russia denounced criticism as an attempt to undermine Moscow’s research.
In the Lancet study, Russian researchers reported on two small trials, each involving 38 healthy adults aged between 18 and 60, who were given a two-part immunization. 
Each participant was given a dose of the first part of the vaccine and then given a booster with the second part 21 days later. 
They were monitored over 42 days and all developed antibodies within the first three weeks. 
The report said the data showed that the vaccine was “safe, well tolerated, and does not cause serious adverse events in healthy adult volunteers”. 
The trials were open-label and not randomized, meaning there was no placebo and the participants knew they were receiving the vaccine and were not randomly assigned to different treatment groups. 
Researchers underlined that larger and longer trials — including a placebo comparison — would be needed to establish the long-term safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for preventing Covid-19 infection.
The report said the 76 participants of these trials would be monitored up to 180 days, adding that a more rigorous phase 3 clinical trial was planned with the involvement of 40,000 volunteers “from different age and risk groups”. 
‘SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT’
Naor Bar-Zeev of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study, said the research was “encouraging but small”, adding that it did not give any data on effectiveness among older age groups, who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. 
“Showing safety will be crucial with COVID-19 vaccines, not only for vaccine acceptance but also for trust in vaccination broadly,” he said in a commentary in the Lancet. 
“Since vaccines are given to healthy people and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially to everyone after approval following phase 3 trials, safety is paramount.”
The pandemic has seen an unprecedented mobilization of funding and research to rush through a vaccine that can protect billions of people worldwide.
This week the US urged states to get ready for a potential COVID-19 vaccine rollout two days before the presidential election in November, sparking concerns President Donald Trump’s administration is accelerating research to fit a political timetable. 
Russia has said that industrial production of its version is expected from September.
President Vladimir Putin said in early August that the vaccine gave “sustainable immunity” and that one of his own daughters had been inoculated, even though Russia’s health ministry said clinical trials were not yet complete.
The World Health Organization has urged Russia to follow established guidelines and go “through all the stages” necessary to develop a safe vaccine. 
Sputnik V was developed by the Gamaleya research institute for epidemiology and microbiology in Moscow in coordination with the Russian defense ministry. 
It uses a cold-causing adenovirus, which is then modified and combined with a part of the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
The report’s lead author, Denis Logunov of Gamaleya, said the adenovirus vaccine enters people’s cells and delivers the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein genetic code, helping the immune system “recognize and attack” the virus. 

Moderna Tumbles Amid Insider Sales and Covid Vaccine Jitters – Yahoo Finance

TipRanks
Billionaire Ken Griffin Snaps Up These 3 “Strong Buy” Stocks
As fears of a tech bubble and stretched valuations become the talk of the town, investors are turning to Wall Street titans for guidance, namely Ken Griffin. Founding hedge fund Citadel in 1990, the firm now boasts over $35 billion worth of assets under management.As a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard University, Griffin began trading from his dorm room with a fax machine, computer and phone. Now, the CEO of Citadel, whose net worth stands at $15.5 billion, is known as one of the Wall Street greats. Looking at the fund’s performance during the COVID crisis, it’s even more clear why Griffin has legendary status.Unlike the average hedge fund, which had a negative return of between 3-4% in the first half of 2020, Citadel’s flagship Wellington fund saw its returns land between 13-14% for the same period.Bearing this in mind, we wanted to take a closer look at three stocks Citadel snapped up recently. Using TipRanks’ database, we found out that each ticker has earned a “Strong Buy” consensus rating from the analyst community. Not to mention all three of them boast massive upside potential.AVEO Pharmaceuticals (AVEO)Hoping to provide better outcomes for patients, AVEO Pharmaceuticals advances targeted medicines for oncology and other unmet medical needs. Following an important regulatory milestone, it’s no wonder all eyes are on this healthcare name.Griffin is among those singing AVEO’s praises. Increasing its holding by a whopping 2,357%, Citadel bought up 383,720 shares in Q2. With the total position now landing at 400,003 shares, it is valued at $1,824,013.H.C. Wainwright analyst Swayampakula Ramakanth reminds investors that on June 1, the FDA accepted the NDA for tivozanib, the company’s lead candidate, for review, based on the fact that the TIVO-3 study reported positive final overall survival (OS) data. In the study, AVEO’s therapy was compared to sorafenib, marketed as Nexavar by Bayer, for the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in the third and fourth-line settings.Looking more closely at the data, which was presented at the ASCO 2020 virtual meeting, the final OS analysis resulted in an overall hazard ratio (HR) of 0.97, which favored tivozanib. Ramakanth was “encouraged” by the OS results as they “suggest tivozanib at least has a similar overall relative risk of deaths compared to sorafenib.”“Considering that TIVO-3 study met both the primary endpoint of progression free survival (PFS) and the secondary endpoint of overall response rate (ORR), with comparable OS to the active comparator, we believe tivozanib would likely get a green light for the U.S. approval, which could be a major catalyst in the next 12 months,” Ramakanth opined.Adding to the good news, the dose escalation for the Phase 1b/2 DEDUCTIVE study, evaluating tivozanib in combination with durvalumab, a monoclonal antibody against PD-L1 marketed as Imfinzi by AstraZeneca in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), has been wrapped up, with it progressing to Phase 2. As the CDC estimates about 33,000 patients suffer from liver cancer every year in the U.S., Ramakanth sees an additional opportunity.To this end, Ramakanth rates AVEO a Buy rating along with a $12 price target. Should his thesis play out, a potential twelve-month gain of 163% could be in the cards. (To watch Ramakanth’s track record, click here)Other analysts don’t beg to differ. 3 Buy ratings and no Holds or Sells have been assigned in the last three months. So, the word on the Street is that AVEO is a Strong Buy. The $15 average price target is more aggressive than Ramakanth’s and implies 229% upside potential. (See AVEO stock analysis on TipRanks)IDEAYA Biosciences (IDYA)Next up we have IDEAYA Biosciences, an oncology-focused precision medicine company that develops targeted therapeutics by using molecular diagnostics. Based on the strength of its technology, this name has scored several fans.Reflecting a new position for Griffin’s Citadel, the fund pulled the trigger on 248,005 shares in Q2. As for the value of this holding, it comes in at $2,881,818. Writing for Northland Capital, analyst Tim Chiang believes shares are “undervalued based on the future potential of its precision medicine oncology pipeline, which targets specific biomarkers.” Expounding on this, he stated, “IDEAYA is applying its capabilities across multiple classes of precision medicine, including direct targeting of oncogenic pathways and synthetic lethality – which represents an emerging class of precision medicine targets.”Part of what makes IDYA a stand-out, in Chiang’s opinion, is the fact that its preclinical programs use its synthetic lethality (SL) platform, which targets tumors with MTAP gene deletion and homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) including BRCA mutations.“We believe the longer-term upside potential with IDYA shares is significant given the potential utility of SL. The first clinically validated SL gene pair was PARP-BRCA1/2, and based on the efficacy of PARP inhibitors, the SL approach to treating cancer has achieved substantial commercial validation,” the analyst explained.To back this up, Chiang points out that several PARP inhibitors have already been approved for the treatment of tumors with BRCA and other DNA damage repair alterations, including ovarian, breast and pancreatic cancers. These inhibitors include AstraZeneca’s olaparib, GlaxoSmithKline’s niraparib, Pfizer’s talazoparib and Clovis’ rucaparib. He added, “We estimate these four drugs generated over $1.6 billion in worldwide sales in 2019 and are expected to reach over $6 billion in sales by 2024.”It should be noted that multiple IND filings are set to come within the next 4-12 months, with IDYA’s lead SL candidate, IDE397, which was designed to inhibit MTAP and MAT2A and thus cause the death of cancerous tumor cells, entering the clinic in 2021.It should come as no surprise, then, that Chiang joined the bulls. To start off his IDYA coverage, he puts an Outperform rating and $28 price target on the stock. This target implies a possible twelve-month rise of 141% could be on the horizon. (To watch Chiang’s track record, click here)Similarly, the rest of the Street is getting onboard. 5 Buy ratings assigned in the last three months add up to a Strong Buy analyst consensus. In addition, the $25.20 average price target puts the potential twelve-month gain at 116%. (See IDYA stock analysis on TipRanks)Ocular Therapeutix (OCUL)Using its patented bioresorbable hydrogel-based formulation technology, Ocular Therapeutix develops cutting-edge therapies for diseases and conditions of the eye. The progress of its clinical programs has caught Wall Street’s attention, with some arguing that now is the time to get in on the action.Griffin and Citadel didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity. Snapping up 161,032 shares during Q2, the hedge fund gave the holding a 272% boost. The total position is now comprised of 220,269 shares and is valued at $1,718,098.Representing Raymond James, 5-star analyst Dane Leone cites the potential to address the unmet needs in the dry eye disease indication as a key component of his bullish thesis. The company boasts two assets targeting the condition, OTX-CSI (chronic) and OTX-DED (acute). OTX-CSI incorporates the FDA-approved immunomodulator cyclosporine as the active drug in the intracanalicular insert, which is released for an estimated three months to increase tear production.When it comes to OTX-DED, Leone argues OCUL was “clever in pursuing the development of OTX-DED (a low dose form of DEXTENZA, a corticosteroid intracanalicular insert placed in the punctum, a natural opening in the eye lid, and into the canaliculus to deliver dexamethasone to the ocular surface for up to 30 days without preservatives) for the treatment of episodic dry eye, as the prior safety data from the DEXTENZA approval enabled management to file a Phase 2-enabling IND by YE20.”Speaking to the possible opportunity here, both products could “provide revenue generation for physicians in the treatment of dry eyes using procedure CPT code 0356T, which could provide incentive for rapid adoption in the dry eye space that is currently valued at $5.1 billion,” in Leone’s opinion.As for the clinical and regulatory pathway, the Phase 2 trial for OTX-DED is set to kick off in 2H21, slightly after OTX-CSI, which will see a Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating two different formulations initiated by 4Q20. Based on the short treatment duration of OTX-DED, management thinks it will still be brought to market first.To this end, Leone remains optimistic about the company’s long-term growth narrative. As a result, he rates OCUL a Strong Buy along with a $15 price target. This figure implies shares could rise 89% in the year ahead. (To watch Leone’s track record, click here) Turning now to the rest of the Street, other analysts are on the same page. With 100% Street support, or 3 Buy ratings to be exact, the consensus is unanimous: OCUL is a Strong Buy. The $13.50 average price target brings the upside potential to 70%. (See OCUL stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

Live updates: Vaccine ‘possible but unlikely’ to be ready by November, adviser says – The Washington Post

September 4, 2020 at 8:16 AM EDT

Senate GOP struggles to unify behind coronavirus relief bill amid dispute over DeVos education policy

A fight over Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s plan to subsidize private school tuition is threatening to derail a Senate GOP effort to write a slimmed-down coronavirus relief bill, people involved in the talks said this week.

The $5 billion tax credit proposal has long been championed by DeVos, and President Trump has offered his support for school choice as part of his reelection campaign. Now the measure is being pushed behind the scenes by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who wants the proposal included in an emerging Senate GOP bill that aims to address economic fallout from the novel coronavirus.

But his move is opposed by a number of other members of the Senate Republican conference — some on the merits, others for strategic reasons. They will need to resolve the impasse to finalize the legislation. The bill is meant to be a negotiating tool with Democrats, though a previous measure with a similar goal went nowhere last month.

By Erica Werner and Laura Meckler

The latest on the coronavirus pandemic: Live updates – CNN International

Speaking from the Oval Office, President Trump praised vaccine development efforts and his administration’s response to Covid-19. The President told reporters he thinks the public will hear some “very good news” on vaccines.
Trump said he’s spoken to the chief of drug-maker Pfizer as the company claims it’s on track to provide data about its vaccine trial by next month.

“I think the vaccines will be announced very soon, and I think you are going to see great companies announcing these vaccines,” Trump said. “And I think you are going to hear some very good news. And also, to me, maybe even better, I think when it comes to therapeutics.”

Trump said he’d spoken with Pfizer on Friday. A day earlier, the company’s CEO said it should have enough data to know if its product works by the end of October.
“As far as we’re concerned they’re very close to announcing some very big news,” Trump said later. “The vaccines are going to come out soon and the therapeutics are continuing.”
Along with Pfizer, Trump said he has spoken with the heads of Johnson and Johnson and Moderna, which are also working on a coronavirus vaccine.
“We have tremendous talent, some tremendous scientists, and they’re right there,” he said.
British drugmaker AstraZeneca said Monday it has started phase three trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine in the United States, becoming the third company to start late-stage trials of a vaccine to prevent Covid-19.
CNN reported on Thursday that Trump has cranked up pressure on administration health officials to expedite work both on a coronavirus vaccine and on treatments that might signal to voters there is an end in sight to the life-altering pandemic that has imperiled his reelection prospects.
With regards to the jobs report released this morning that showed employers added 1.4 million jobs in August, the President said he believes the country will see “tremendous growth in the very near future.”
Trump’s rival Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is set to deliver remarks soon from Delaware on the economy and Covid-19.

COVID-19 impact on treatment for chronic illness revealed – UN News

In a call to Governments everywhere to take greater steps to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the pandemic has exposed the fact too little has been achieved, even though these illnesses account for seven in 10 deaths worldwide.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the coronavirus had “preyed on people” with NCDs, and that the risk factors they face “are increasing vulnerability to COVID-19, infection, and the likelihood of worse outcomes, including in younger people.”

Daily briefing: This is the state of COVID-19 vaccine development now – Nature.com

NATURE BRIEFING
04 September 2020

There are 321 confirmed COVID-19 vaccine candidates, 32 of which have already entered clinical trials. Plus, India’s vaccine production paradox and when Wolfgang Pauli met Carl Jung.

Flora Graham

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Human embryos could be edited to fix genes that cause disease. Credit: Dr Yorgos Nikas/SPL

Gene editing in human embryos could one day prevent some parents from passing on serious genetic disorders to their offspring — but only in rare circumstances should it be considered. And for now, the technique has not been shown to be safe or effective to use at all. That’s the conclusion of an expert panel, convened by the US National Academy of Medicine, the US National Academy of Sciences and the UK Royal Society, which has released a report about heritable human-genome editing. The group was formed following the shock announcement from genomics researcher He Jiankui who reported in November 2018 that he had created the first ‘CRISPR babies’.
Nature | 5 min read
Read more: CRISPR babies: when will the world be ready? (Nature | 14 min read, from 2019)
Reference: Heritable Human Genome Editing report

Amid escalating tensions between the United States and China, US authorities are increasing their scrutiny of links between researchers from China and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). But with PLA fingers in so many pies — many of the top hospitals in China are affiliated with the military, for example — there are concerns that scientists might be unfairly accused of espionage. The extent to which US research is actually being funnelled to the Chinese military, and how to block it meaningfully and fairly if it is, remain unclear, say experts — as do the parameters that the United States is now using to label foreign scientists and collaborations as a threat.
Nature | 7 min read

Water, water, everywhere — but where did it all come from? To find out, planetary scientists looked to enstatite chondrite meteorites, which formed from the same building blocks that Earth did. The hydrogen contents and deuterium/hydrogen ratios of those meteorites suggest that most of Earth’s water could have been there right from our planet’s formation. This upends the idea that all of our water must have come from comets and asteroids that formed further from the Sun — beyond the ‘snow line’ in the early solar nebula where it was cool enough for water to remain liquid.
NPR | 5 min read
Reference: Science paper

COVID-19 coronavirus update

A vaccine will be key to controlling India’s coronavirus outbreak.Credit: Satish Bate/Hindustan Times/Getty

India will make vaccines for the world — but might struggle to immunize its own people
As one of the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturers, India is likely to supply much of the doses of any future SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Several companies have agreements to make coronavirus vaccines being developed by international drug companies. The Indian government says some of these doses can be exported, as long as a proportion remains in India. But even with this commitment, researchers say vaccine-makers might struggle to produce enough doses fast enough to control the country’s huge outbreak — currently the world’s third largest. Distributing vaccines to rural parts of the country with weak health-care systems will be a huge challenge.
Nature | 6 min read
The state of COVID-19 vaccines now
As of today, there are 321 confirmed COVID-19 vaccine candidates, 32 of which have already entered clinical trials. Get a firm grip on this incredibly fast-moving field with a short, data-driven overview by four experts at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), one of the world’s leading vaccine funders. This is an update on CEPI’s last review, recommended in the Briefing in April, when an eye-watering 78 vaccines were already in progress.
Nature Reviews Drug Discovery | 7 min read
‘I hope that real change comes out of this moment’
The coronavirus pandemic has ripped away the blinders that were obscuring the structural racism in health care in the United States, says physician-scientist Uché Blackstock. “Here, right now, [as of Aug 18], one in 1125 Black Americans have died from coronavirus,” she says. “And there’s another statistic: if Black Americans had died at the same rate as White Americans, it is estimated that about 19 500 Black people would still be alive.” Blackstock hopes that these bitter truths will inspire work towards a more just future. “I have to feel that way because this moment feels so painful, and also so tenuous, but it’s also a moment when people are having conversations that they never had before.”
The Lancet | 5 min read

Features & opinion

While recruiting, how do you make your laboratory or department attractive to female candidates and others from marginalized backgrounds? Four female scientists with experience in the job markets in computer science, electrical and computer engineering, information science, cognitive science, public health, public policy and statistics share their top tips. They recommend inviting candidates to give a talk so that you can showcase what you offer, demonstrating by your actions how colleagues are treated in your workplace and not shoehorning clumsy mentions of diversity into your interviews.
Nature | 9 min read

To explore the tension between the contrasting realities of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, theoretical physicist Paul Halpern finds inspiration in a relationship. In Synchronicity, he relates how Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli, distraught and drinking heavily after his divorce in 1930, sought out Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung for therapy. Jung, in turn, received a schooling in quantum physics.
Nature | 5 min read

Despite over a century of use, there’s a lot we don’t know about how anaesthetics function. This week, researchers have identified how some of them they bind to a specific neuronal receptor. Find out more in this week’s podcast, along with the latest science news.
Nature Podcast | 35 min listen
Reference: Nature paper
Subscribe to the Nature Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify.

Quote of the day

Wearable-technology researcher James Heathers argues that for-profit journals should pay their reviewers. (Personal blog | 10 min read)

This week our free-ranging penguin friend Leif Penguinson is enjoying the spectacular views at Salar de Atacama, the largest salt flat in Chile. Can you find the penguin?
The answer will be in Monday’s e-mail, all thanks to Briefing photo editor and penguin wrangler Tom Houghton.
This newsletter is always evolving — tell us what you think! Please send your feedback to briefing@nature.com.
Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing
With contributions by Nicky Phillips

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Related Articles

Most people likely won’t get a coronavirus vaccine until the middle of 2021 – CNBC

The vaccine by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc., generated antibodies similar to those seen in people who have recovered from COVID-19 in a study volunteers who were given either a low or medium dose.
Ted S. Warren | AP

Most Americans likely won’t get immunized with a coronavirus vaccine until the middle of next year, U.S. officials and public health experts say, even as the federal government asks states to prepare to distribute a vaccine as soon as November.
U.S. health officials expect to know whether at least one of the three potential vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca in late-stage testing works by the end of the year or sooner. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Thursday the company could have results from its late-stage coronavirus vaccine trial as early as October. 

Whichever vaccine wins regulatory authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, it will likely be in short supply once it’s cleared for public distribution, officials and experts warn. The vaccine will likely require two doses at varying intervals, and states still face logistical challenges such as setting up distribution sites and acquiring enough needles, syringes and bottles needed for immunizations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently asking states to expedite the approval process for medical supply company McKesson so it can set up coronavirus vaccination sites across the U.S. by Nov. 1. The agency said states may need to waive some licensing and permit requirements that could bog down the process. 
Still, a vaccine ready for public distribution in November is “extremely unlikely,” Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who is leading the Trump administration’s Operation War Speed initiative, said in an interview with NPR that published Thursday evening. 
“There is a very, very low chance that the trials that are running as we speak” could be ready before the end of October, he told NPR.  “And therefore, there could be — if all other conditions required for an Emergency Use Authorization are met — an approval. I think it’s extremely unlikely but not impossible.”
He said he “firmly” believes a vaccine will be available before the end of the year and “in quantities that can immunize patients at the highest risk, which means very old people, 70 years and older, and maybe people that are highly exposed on the first line.”

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner, said broad distribution of a coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. is likely “a 2021 event.”
He said the vaccine will likely be authorized by the FDA in stages where “incremental groups are getting access to the vaccine through the end of this year, assuming that they work and that they’re demonstrated to be safe and effective.”
On Tuesday, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a draft proposal for distributing a vaccine in the U.S. if and when one is approved for public use. The report was requested by the National Institutes of Health and the CDC.
The vaccine would be distributed in four phases, with health-care workers, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions getting vaccinated first, according to the group. Essential workers, teachers and people in homeless shelters as well as people in prisons would be next on the list, followed by children and young adults.

The CDC estimates there are between 17 million and 20 million health-care workers in the U.S. alone, almost the entire number of vaccine doses the U.S. expects to have by the end of the year, according to Slaoui. He told NPR the U.S. should be able to immunize up to 25 million people by the end of the year.
He said the nation will “be able to immunize the U.S. population by the middle of 2021.”
Gottlieb was a little more optimistic on the timing during an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday. He said a vaccine will be broadly available by the first quarter, “maybe it’s more like the first half of 2021 … but it’s clearly going to slip into 2021.”
An emergency use authorization allows the FDA “to stage the authorization, the access to the vaccine, to different high-risk groups while they continue to collect data,” he said.
It also “allows the FDA to collect a lot of data, post market data, around the use of a product and effectively stand up what would be the equivalent of a registry where they’re continuing to collect safety and efficacy data on people as they get vaccinated.”
“In terms of having a vaccine available for broad distribution where you can actually go to your doctor’s office or distribution site and get the vaccine … that’s clearly I think a 2021 event,” Gottlieb said. 
The World Health Organization also doesn’t see widespread vaccinations until the middle of next year. The agency said phase three trials underway will take longer as scientists need to assess whether the vaccines are “truly protective.” 
“You also need to see how safe it is,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said. “There are earlier phases you do look at safety and you look at safety very, very carefully before you go into the phase three. But you need to be following safety at all stages, so that makes it a longer process.”
A key forecast predicts the U.S. will top more than 410,000 Covid-19 deaths by the end of the year as the country heads into the fall and winter, according to new projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
Covid-19 has already killed at least 186,800 people in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The model by IHME, whose models have previously been cited by the White House and state officials, forecasts that the death toll will more than double by Jan. 1 and could reach as high as 620,000 if states aggressively ease coronavirus restrictions and people disregard public health guidance.