Merck Drops Vaccine Candidates


Pharma giant Merck has halted work on its 2 COVID vaccines, citing disappointing immune responses, STAT reports this morning.
 
Merck’s candidates showed early promise as long-lasting, single-dose alternatives to other COVID vaccines, but Phase 1 trial results revealed they produced lower levels of antibodies against SARS-CoV than other vaccines.
 
Merck pledged to focus instead on developing COVID treatments, including an antiviral medicine against SARS-CoV-2 and a drug aimed at quelling the immune system’s overreaction to the virus.
 

Real-World Vaccine Performance Reviews

Good news from Israel, where more than 75% of older people in Israel have gotten a COVID-19 shot:

  • Preliminary data (not yet peer-reviewed) on 200,000 vaccinated people aged 60+ shows they were about one-third less likely to test positive 2 weeks after their first dose, compared to 200,000 unvaccinated people.

  • Israel also reports a 60% drop in hospitalizations for people aged 60+ just 3 weeks after they got their first Pfizer COVID vaccine dose, The Times of Israel reports—even though the vaccine is expected to take a month to kick in.


Clues from Israel, the UAE, and elsewhere are giving scientists their first glimpses of real-world vaccine performance, Nature notes.  
 
Reductions in hospitalizations, then deaths, are believed to be the first signs the vaccines are working, says Alexandra Hogan, an infectious-disease modeller at Imperial College London.

 
Related: 

Healthier world means ‘safer America’ Tedros stresses, as UN-led vaccine initiative announces deal for 40 million doses  – UN News

Pfizer Will Ship Fewer Vaccine Vials to Account for 'Extra' Doses – The New York Times

China pushes fringe theories on pandemic origins, virus – AP

C.D.C. Eases Coronavirus Vaccine Rules for ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ – The New York Times

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