Biopartnering Seminar Series - Applications of a COVID-19 Human Challenge Trial in Canada - By Fea5ible Pharma
Abstract: COVID-19 emerged in December of 2019, and has since severely impacted the way of life globally. The negative health and economic implications of this virus have initiated a global race towards a vaccine. There are approximately 200 vaccine candidates, 11 of which have already entered Phase III clinical trials. Vaccine development takes approximately 10 years, but manufacturers are racing to complete the process in a more urgent timeline. Human challenge trials (HCTs) may offer an alternative, cost-effective approach to expedite the vaccine approval timeline and provide a viable vaccine candidate. HCTs involve deliberately infecting healthy individuals with the virus after vaccination. This allows researchers to monitor the progression of the disease along with the vaccine’s efficacy in a controlled environment in real-time. Multiple human challenge trials have been conducted in the past for malaria, cholera, influenza, dengue, and typhoid fever. These trials provided valuable information on disease pathogenesis, and in some cases has led to vaccine development. Unsurprisingly, HCT’s have been met with heavy ethical and regulatory criticisms. However, advocacy groups like 1DaySooner have pushed for COVID-19 HCTs, gathering over 30,000 volunteers who have indicated their interest in participating in these trials. After extensive evaluation of multiple vaccine types and socioeconomic value, we suggest that Canada begins an HCT using Medicago’s Viral-like Particle-based vaccine. This will help expedite the Phase III process and gather research on the transcriptomics of an effective vaccine response. This recommendation would be contingent on the failure of current Phase III vaccines that Canada has partnerships with.
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