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Success from two leading coronavirus vaccine programs likely means other frontrunners will also show strong protection against COVID-19, Bill Gates said Tuesday.
Drug companies Pfizer and Moderna both announced late-stage success with their COVID-19 vaccines in the past 10 days.
The billionaire Microsoft founder and philanthropist said that bodes well for other experimental shots.
“With the very good news from Pfizer and Moderna, we think it’s now likely that AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson will also likely show very strong efficacy,” Gates said at The New York Times’ DealBook Online Summit.
Those three vaccine candidates are still in the final stage of clinical trials. AstraZeneca has said it’s possible to have conclusive results before year’s end, while Novavax and J&J are both aiming to have data in early 2021.
With lower manufacturing costs and lax temperature requirements, these additional shots could help solve the world’s supply problem with vaccines, Gates said.
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The fact that two coronavirus vaccines recently showed strong protection against COVID-19 bodes well for other leading programs led by AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson, Bill Gates said Tuesday.
The billionaire Microsoft founder and philanthropist said it will be easier to boost manufacturing and distribute these other shots to the entire world, particularly developing nations.
The vaccine space has seen a flurry of good news in recent days, marked by overwhelming success in late-stage trials by both Pfizer and Moderna. The studies showed both vaccines provided strong protection against the virus compared to a placebo.
Read more: We just got the world-changing news that 2 top coronavirus vaccines are highly effective. Here’s everything we know about the race for a vaccine and when you might be able to get a shot.
Speaking at The New York Times’ DealBook Online Summit, Gates said it’s likely that other frontrunners will have similar success.
“With the very good news from Pfizer and Moderna, we think it’s now likely that AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson will also likely show very strong efficacy,” Gates told journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin.
All the leading vaccines target the same part of the coronavirus
While Gates didn’t delve into the scientific rationale behind that prediction, many scientists hold the same hope. All the leading vaccine candidates target the same part of the coronavirus in the spike protein.
Early-stage clinical trials showed all the shots elicited varying levels of neutralizing antibodies, virus-fighting proteins that play a critical role in the body’s immune response.
But the only way to know if that translates to protection is by running late-stage trials that enroll tens of thousands for volunteers who receive either the experimental shot or placebo injections.
The scientific success has turned the top challenges surrounding a COVID-19 vaccine to the manufacturing and distribution front. Gates noted that the world will be supply constrained for 2021, but these additional vaccines will prove valuable on that front.
Additional vaccines should be easier to manufacture, distribute, and store
AstraZeneca, Novavax, and J&J “are a little bit easier to scale up production at very low marginal cost, and don’t have the same temperature requirements,” Gates said, later adding these “those three vaccines may be part of getting the supply situation solved.”
AstraZeneca has said it’s possible to have conclusive results before year’s end, while Novavax and J&J are both aiming to have data in early 2021.
Both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines were developed using a new vaccine platform called messenger RNA and require cold storage.
While Moderna’s can be stored for a month in typical fridge temperatures, Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, requiring dry ice and special containers. That logistical burden could prove to be an obstacle for getting vaccine access to poorer areas of the world.
Read more: How the pharma giant Pfizer teamed up with a little-known biotech to develop an effective coronavirus vaccine in record time
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