German-based biotech firm BioNTech announced on Monday that it had observed progress in ongoing research with US drug giant Pfizer to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus. 

Preliminary results were released by the companies and are under scientific peer-review for publication.

According to the early data, the vaccine generated antibodies, as well as T-cell responses, at “remarkably low dose levels.”

“It is encouraging that the data on BNT162b1 [vaccine candidate] from the German study cohort are very much in line with what we have seen in the U.S. study cohort,” said Dr. Ozlem Tureci, co-founder of BioNTech, in the statement, adding that the generation of antibodies and T-cell responses would be important to receive clearance for a potential vaccine.

“These interim results from the German study, combined with initial data from the U.S. study, highlight the potential of this mRNA-based vaccine approach and represent an important step forward in our development efforts for the BNT162 program,” said Kathrin U. Jansen, head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer.

The companies announced on July 1 that the vaccine generated antibodies stronger than the average recovered COVID-19 patient in its US trial.

The next step will be for the firms to determine a dose level and select among multiple vaccine candidates, before progressing to a global safety and efficacy trial that could involve up to 30,000 healthy participants. This larger trial is anticipated to begin in late July 2020 “if regulatory approval is received.”

Since originating in China last December, the pandemic has claimed nearly 607,000 lives in 188 countries and regions.

Over 14.5 million cases have been reported worldwide, while recoveries have exceeded 8.1 million so far, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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