Exclusive: New global lab network will compare COVID-19 vaccines head-to-head


LONDON (Reuters) – A major non-profit health emergency group has established a global laboratory network to assess data for potential COVID-19 vaccines, allowing scientists and drug manufacturers to compare them and select the most effective shots. Allows to accelerate.

FILE PHOTO: A health worker employs an experimental Chinese coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine voluntary and doctor Naeem Selik as the final Phase III trial begins at the Kokeli University Research Hospital in Kokeli, Turkey, September 25, 2020. REUTERS / Murad Sezer / File Photo

Melanie Saville, director of vaccine R&D at the Alliance for Epidemic Preparation, said that speaking to Reuters ahead of Reuters, the idea was to develop an effective shot at “comparing apples with apples” to drug makers. Was in the form of a race to create an effective shot to help control the COVID-19 epidemic.

The centralized network is the first of its kind to be established in response to an epidemic.

In a network spanning Europe, Asia and North America, the lab will centralize the analysis of samples from COVID-19 candidates’ trials “because vaccines are all being tested under one roof”, Saville said, with results varying. Aim to reduce risk.

“They all use different protocols and different reagents when you start (with developing potential new vaccines). Especially with a new disease, everyone develops their own assays. – So when you take a readout, the ability to make comparisons between different candidates is very difficult, ”she told Reuters.

“By taking a centralized lab approach … it will really give us a chance to make sure that we are comparing apples with apples.”

The CEPI network will initially include six laboratories in each of Canada, Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Bangladesh and India, Saville said.

Hundreds of potential COVID-19 vaccines have been deployed in Russia and China at various stages of development worldwide, with shots already deployed before testing for full efficacy, and front-enders from Pfizer PFE.N, modern MRNA.O And AstraZeneca AZN.L The results of the final phase of testing are expected before the end of the year.

Typically, immunity to potential vaccines is evaluated in individual lab analyzes, which aim to see whether biomarkers of immune responses – such as antibodies and T-cell responses – dose to the vaccine candidate in clinical trial volunteers, or doses Occur after receiving. .

But with more than 320 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the works, Saville said, several differences in data collection and evaluation methods are an issue.

Along with the possible variation in markers of immunity, there are differences in how and where samples are collected, transported, and stored – all of which can affect the quality and utility of the data produced and compared. Can make it difficult.

The standard assessment of their true potential “becomes very complex”, he said, with a range of different vaccine techniques – from viral vector vaccines to vaccines based on messenger RNA.

“With hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines in development … it is imperative that we have a system that can reliably evaluate and compare the immune response of the candidates we are currently testing,” he said.

By centralizing the analysis in a laboratory network, the SAVIL can allow for head-to-head comparisons, called “inter-laboratory variability”.

CEPI states that all developers of potential COVID-19 vaccines can use a centralized lab network for free to assess their candidates against a common protocol. For now, the network will assess samples from early-stage vaccine candidate testing and first- and second-stage human trials, but CEPI said it has expanded its capacity to Late Stage (Phase III) test data in the coming months. Is expected

Results produced by the network will be sent back to the developer with neither the CEPI nor the network owned by the data.

CEPI is cooperating in the development of nine potential COVID-19 vaccines, including candidates for modern, AstraZeneca, Novavax. NVAX.O And CureVac.

Reporting by Kate Kelland, Editing by Mark Potter

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