Merck to start human trials on Covid-19 vaccine ’soon’
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London - Merck aims to start human trials on one of its Covid-19 vaccine candidates "fairly soon," with a second vaccine candidate likely to begin trials later this year, Chief Executive Kenneth Frazier said on Thursday.
Merck this year bought Austrian vaccine maker Themis Bioscience to gain its vaccine project that relies on a measles vector, and is also collaborating with research nonprofit IAVI on a second vaccine hopeful that uses the same technology as Merck’s Ebola vaccine ERVEBO.
"Both of those are going forward," Frazier said during a virtual briefing sponsored by drug industry group International Federation of Pharmaceuticals Manufacturers & Association. "We expect to be able to start larger-scale human trials in the measles-virus vaccine fairly soon, and we expect to be able to start those clinical trials for the (IAVI vaccine) later this year."
In the meantime, top US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said last week it is unlikely a Covid-19 vaccine would be ready by the end of October, but that it is not impossible.
"I think most of the people feel it's going to be November, December," Fauci said in a CNN interview when asked about the possibility of an earlier release, adding a clinical trial could prompt drug developers to decide a vaccine works sooner. "It is conceivable that you can have it by October, though I don't think that that's likely."