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Preliminary trial success, Covid vax could be out by Dec: Bangladeshi scientist

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Dhaka : Claiming success in preliminary animal modelling trial of Covid-19 vaccine, Globe Biotech Limited has claimed to be the first company from Bangladesh to have a Covid-19 vaccine under development. It says it is aiming for a December 2020 availability of the vaccine in the market.

They received the result after conducting the preliminary trial on five rabbits from June 10 to June 28, says Dr Asif Mahmud, Assistant Manager and incharge of Research and Development, Globe Biotech Limited, in an exclusive interview to IANS.

Earlier, he led the team to claim success in preliminary trial for the vaccine in national capital Dhaka on Thursday afternoon.

Excerpts from the interview of scientist Dr Asif Mahmud

Q: Globe Biotech is a research company in Bangladesh. Is it a branch of any MNC in the world?

A: No, in fact, Globe Biotech Limited is a Biological Drug Discovery Company in operation in Bangladesh since 2015. The project was started by our CEO Kankon Nag and COO Dr Nazneen Sultana. We have prepared 18 bio similar. We are also working on our own Nobel drug. After completing the animal trials of 6 bio similar, we have applied for Ethical Approval through our PRO at the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) in Dhaka. We have that ability and experience to invent a vaccine against this pandemic. Under the supervision of our CEO and COO, after a Covid-19 patient was reported in Bangladesh on March 8, we shifted our focus to SARS-Cov2 and started 3 new projects. Number one — we will do kit development; number two — we will do vaccine development for the country; and in the last — the biological molecule development.

Q: Is the research by Globe Biotech independent? Or is your research done under the supervision of any other country?

A: Globe Biotech is researching independently. Under the supervision of our CEO and COO, both of whom supervised the team from Canada. They are experienced in this matter. Dr Kankon was directly involved in the HIV vaccine project. He is using that experience here. We are conducting research under their direct supervision. A 12-member scientific group started research on March 18 under the leadership of both.

We have taken some 76 genome sequences under consideration, wherein we found that a sequence (numbered 614) has a mutation point that they have used for amino acid bonding.

Q: Which method did you follow for the research you are undertaking? And how do you make sure it will work to protect people from Covid-19?

A: We went for the SPR method for the tests. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) is a phenomenon where electrons in the metal surface layer are excited by photons of incident light with a certain angle of incidence, and then propagated parallel to the metal surface. It is an optical technique utilised for detecting molecular interactions. Actually, we have set a vaccine target. We have analysed the sequences from all the databases we have worldwide, including the sequences in Bangladesh. We set the target by our analysis. We have modified that target according to our needs. We have set multiple targets.

We have placed multiple delivery systems in consideration.

By applying the delivery system we have done an animal trial on rabbits.

By this we have got a very good antibody titer. And those antibodies have shown strong binding affinity with our antigen. We have additional candidates, some of which we have presented to the press. But the company is yet to apply for a patent or any publication; and before the patent is ensured it would not disclose the data received from the trial. We have said that we need to convert the data from the preliminary animal trial into a regulated animal trial. That we will do within the next 6 to 8 weeks. Then we will apply for Ethical Approval.

Q: This 6 to 8 weeks period, to get proof of animal trial? Or, for trial on humans?

A: No, we have already got proof of antibody generation in the preliminary animal trial. Now, it needs to be converted to a regulated animal trial. Because, for human trial, we have to submit it to the regulatory body for Ethical Approval. Regulated trials will require some further characterisation. Then, we will apply for human trials.

Q: Did you inform about your research to the drug administration of the country?

A: Not yet. There is no role of the regulatory body now. When we do a regulated animal trial, of course, we go to the regulatory body.

Q: What are your expectations? When will the vaccine be released?

A: We have already formulated the regulated animal trial guidelines and the tests would be concluded within four to six weeks. Thereafter, the company will seek Ethical Approval from the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) in early September, when the data from the Regulated Animal Trial reaches us within 6 to 7 weeks.

And then, we will apply for market authorisation to the regulatory authority in December within three months after completing the phases 1, 2 and 3. If everything goes smoothly, we expect to be able to bring our vaccine to the market by December.

Q: If you get government support, do you think success for you can be faster or smoother?

A: Obviously! This will be the first discovery of this vaccine in Bangladesh. The first task always comes with more obstacles and hindrances. We will remove the obstacles with the support of the government and will bring the vaccine to the market in due course.

(Sumi Khan can be contacted at [email protected])

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52000 new Covid cases, 803 deaths in India in 24 hours

India has one of the lowest Case Fatality Rate (CFR) at 2.09 per cent as compared to the global average.

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New Delhi: With 52,050 new coronavirus (Covid-19) cases and 803 deaths in the last 24 hours, India’s overall caseload stood at 18,55,745 while the total fatalities increased to 38,938, data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare revealed on Tuesday.

The country had crossed the 18-lakh mark on Monday. Currently, 5,86,298 cases are active and 12,30,509 people have recovered from the disease.

India has one of the lowest Case Fatality Rate (CFR) at 2.09 per cent as compared to the global average.

With a recovery rate of 66.3 per cent, a total of 44,306 people were discharged in the last 24 hours, the Ministry said. In the last 24 hours, 6,61,892 samples have been tested.

Maharashtra remained the worst-hit state with 4,41,228 cases and 15,576 deaths, of which 260 occurred in the last 24 hours.

Tamil Nadu comes in second with 257,613 cases and 4,132 deaths. The state registered 98 fatalities in the last 24 hours.

Delhi, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh saw a decline in the number of active cases.

Mizoram, Tripura and Uttarakhand too witnessed active cases plummeting.

While on the global front, India remains the third worst-hit nation. As of Tuesday morning, the overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 18.1 million mark, while the deaths have increased to over 691,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Tuesday morning, the total number of cases stood at 18,193,291 and the fatalities rose to 6,91,642, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

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COVID-19 pandemic “once in a century”, but still “in our hands”: WHO

“I’m not saying there is no solution now. Whatever happens in the next few months or years, I also believe that it’s in our hands,” he said.

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Geneva, Aug 4 : The chief of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the COVID-19 pandemic is “a once-in-a-century health crisis,” but it is still “in our hands.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual press conference on Monday that the world has never seen anything like this pandemic for decades, and its effects might last for decades more, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Since we started probably recording, this is the first ever coronavirus-caused pandemic which has two dangerous combinations: it moves fast, and at the same time it’s a killer,” the WHO chief explained.

However, he noted, although the crisis is very severe, there are still solutions and hopes.

“I’m not saying there is no solution now. Whatever happens in the next few months or years, I also believe that it’s in our hands,” he said.

“Since the outbreak started, many countries have shown that it can be controlled, or serious transmission can be suppressed,” Tedros said, adding that he has mentioned many such countries in the past, including Spain, Italy, China and South Korea.

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One person is dying of COVID-19 every seven minutes in Iran: state TV

The report said that Iran’s official coronavirus figures were based only on the number of deaths in hospitals and those who had already tested positive for the coronavirus.

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DUBAI : One person is dying from COVID-19 every seven minutes in Iran, state television said on Monday, as the Health Ministry reported 215 new deaths from the disease and state media warned of a lack of proper social distancing.

Health Ministry spokesman Sima Sadat Lari was quoted by the state TV as saying the 215 deaths in the past 24 hours took the combined death toll to 17,405 in Iran, and the number of confirmed cases rose by 2,598 to 312,035.

State television showed several Iranians in a busy Tehran street without wearing face masks or social distancing.

Some experts have doubted the accuracy of Iran’s official coronavirus tolls. A report by the Iranian parliament’s research centre in April suggested that the coronavirus tolls might be almost twice as many as those announced by the health ministry.

The report said that Iran’s official coronavirus figures were based only on the number of deaths in hospitals and those who had already tested positive for the coronavirus.

British broadcaster BBC reported on Monday that, based on data from an anonymous source, the number of deaths in Iran might be three times higher than officially reported. Iranian health authorities denied the report and said there had been no covebakingr-up.

With COVID-19 deaths surging since restrictions were eased in mid-April, Iranian authorities have said measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be reimposed if health regulations are not observed. Since last month, wearing face masks in public places and covered spaces has been mandatory.

Iran’s National Coronavirus Combat Taskforce was expected to announce later on Monday whether nationwide university entrance examinations, with over 1 million participants, will take place in August. Many Iranians have called on social media for the examinations to be postponed.

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