American Pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), announced yesterday that it was starting safe human trials with its COVID-19 vaccine after its study on monkeys showed that its best-performing vaccine candidate offered strong protection in a single dose.
A published study in the journal, Nature, stated that during the conduct of the trials, when exposed to the virus, 6 out of 6 animals who were given the experimental vaccine were completely protected from lung disease. Also, 5 out of the 6 animals were protected from infection as measured by the presence of the virus in nasal swaps.
The Chief Scientific Officer of J&J, Dr. Paul Stoffels, in a telephone conversation with Reuters said, ‘’This gives us confidence that we can test a single-shot vaccine in this epidemic and learn whether it has a protective effect in humans.”
J&J said that it had started early-stage human trials in the United States and Belgium and would test the experimental vaccine on more than 1,000 healthy adults that are aged between 18 to 55 years, as well as adults who are 65 years and above.
It was also revealed that the United States Government is supporting J&J’s vaccine development with $456 million in funding as part of its massive financial commitment to help intensify development and production of a vaccine to stop the pandemic, which has infected over 16.7 million people and killed more than 660,000 people.
Stoffels said that initial tests of this vaccine on other diseases discovered that a second shot significantly increases protection. But in a pandemic, a single-shot vaccine has a significant advantage, sidestepping a lot of the logistical issues involved in getting people to come back for their second dose.
READ MORE: Nigeria blows past 40,000 COVID-19 cases
He said that data shows that the Coronavirus experimental vaccine generated a strong antibody response and provided protection with only a single dose.
The company wants to take up the question of one or two doses in its first phase of the trial.
Stoffels pointed out that depending on the result that is gotten, J&J plans to start large scale phase 3 testing with a single dose regimen in the second half of September. The company hopes to start a parallel phase 3 study testing of a 2 dose regimen of the vaccine around the same time.
The white house coronavirus task force coordinator, Deborah Birx, during an interview with Fox News said, “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is exciting because it’s a single dose. Having one dose show protection in monkeys like the other vaccines have shown with two doses does shorten the time period for development because your readout becomes 30 days quicker.”
J&J’s technology is really based on the human adenovirus, a type of common cold virus, it’s an approach that is perhaps best known for its use in an Ebola vaccine.
In the monkey study, scientists from J&J and Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center studied seven different potential vaccines in 32 animals and compared the results to 20 control animals who got placebo shots.
All of the animals were exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus 6 weeks later and the 20 animals that received the placebo developed high levels of virus in their lungs and nasal swabs.
In the best-performing candidate, which J&J selected for human testing, none of the animals had the virus in their lungs and only one showed low levels of virus in nasal swabs. Lab tests showed they all had developed antibodies capable of neutralizing the virus after a single shot.
Recall that Nairametrics had earlier reported that another American biotech firm, Moderna’s experimental vaccine showed positive outcomes in animals as it induced a robust response and protected against infection in a study on monkeys. This has been followed up with experimental trials on humans.
Although other COVID-19 vaccine developers appear ahead, with AstraZeneca having already administered its experimental vaccine to almost 10,000 people in the UK, gaining protection with a single dose could prove an advantage in the logistical challenge of rolling out massive vaccination programmes globally.
FG launches strategy for introduction of Covid-19 vaccine
The FG has launched a strategy for the phased and equitable introduction of the Covid-19 vaccine across the country.
The Federal Government has launched a strategy for the introduction of the Covid-19 vaccine in a phased and equitable manner across the country.
The strategy code-named, “T.E.A.C.H”, was initiated by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH).
According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, during the inauguration said the launch of T.E.A.C.H and Electronic Management of Immunization Data (EMID) will ensure the smooth rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign across the country.
What the Minister of Health is saying
Ehanire stated, “Our goal is to introduce COVID-19 vaccine in a phased and equitable manner, based on the advice of the WHO and the experience we observe other countries to have made, and ultimately vaccinating all eligible Nigerians within the next two years, to ensure herd immunity.
“We in Nigeria finally have the privilege of joining other countries to start the vaccination, which will prioritise, first those people most at risk of infection due to their exposure in the line of duty.
”Vaccination with safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a critical part of the country’s strategy to counter the COVID-19 pandemic and the stop transmission of the virus. No private hospital or organisation has experience in handling this type of vaccine than the NPHCDA,” he said.
The minister also said that vaccines that were not approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) would be determined as dangerous and would be seized by the Nigeria Customs Services.
The minister also noted that in less than 24 hours, the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines would arrive the country from the COVAX Facility and would be deployed.
On his own part, the Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said a lot of work had been done to reduce the casualty of Covid-19 in the country’s population.
Ihekweazu, who was represented by Head of Special Projects and Partnerships at NCDC, Dr Priscilla Ibekwe said that a sister agency, the NPHCDA, was prepared to lead the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in the country and NCDC would collaborate with them to ensure a successful campaign.
The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, in his introduction of the T.E.A.C.H Strategy, said it was an Indigenous approach to roll out the Covid-19 vaccine in the country.
Shuaib said that the Country has provided an e-registration link to enable Nigerians to register for the Covid-19 vaccines themselves, to obtain their pre-vaccination numbers and scheduled date
He said that the first phase of the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine in the country would target front-line health workers, Covid-19 rapid response teams, laboratory network, petrol station workers and strategic leaders.
According to him, How COVID-19 will be rolled out, Phase 1- healthcare workers, security agents, first responders, petrol station workers, laboratory workers, and strategic political leadership.
What you should know
- It can be recalled that the Federal Government had announced that Nigeria would receive its first batch of 4 million AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from the COVAX initiative on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
- The COVAX Facility which is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), with UNICEF as a key implementing partner, is a global scheme to procure and equitably distribute vaccines for free, especially among poorer countries, as the world moves to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
How to register for Covid-19 vaccination in Nigeria
The NPHCDA has announced guidelines to register for COVID-19 vaccinations.
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, has released guidelines on registering for Covid-19 vaccination in Nigeria.
The guidelines were announced Monday morning in a social media post and they are as follows:
Step 1: Visit https://nphcda.gov.ng/
Step 2: Click on ” covid-19 vaccination e-registration”
- In the Registration Form for COVID-19 Vaccination you are to fill in; your full names, phone number, email address, date of birth, sex, the type of National ID you have, a residential address which states, the LGA of residence, ward of residence and preferred vaccination site.
- You are meant to also select your preferred vaccination date and time slot, which ends with a photo update.
After doing the above steps, you will receive a message saying:
“Registration Completed! …Your Vaccination ID is:
Your data is successfully received.
Thank you for taking time to fill the form, you will receive an SMS and email shortly containing your Vaccination No. and other instructions.”
What you should know
- The Federal Government confirmed that the first tranche of Covid-19 vaccines will arrive in Nigeria on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
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