Exclusive: New global lab network will compare COVID-19 vaccines head-to-head

Kate Kelland By

LONDON ( Reuters) – A global laboratory network has been developed for the study , compared with data from possible vaccines for COVID-19 and for the acceleration of selection from the most successful shots for scientists and drugmakers.

Speaking at Reuters prior to the announcement of the laboratories in which they are operating, Melanie Saville, Vaccine R & D Head of the Coalition for Disease Preparedness Technologies (CEPI), found out that the idea was to "comparison apples with apples."

In reaction to a pandemic, the centralized network is the first of its kind.

The network would centralize the study of samples from COVID-19 trials for candidate groups "as if all vaccinations have been checked under one roof" in a network across Europe , Asia and North America, Saville added, with a view to reducing chance of outcomes volatility.

"Everyone uses different procedures and different reagents when you begin (with the production of possible new vaccines) particularly with a new disease. So, when you are re-reading the case, it is really challenging to evaluate different candidates," she said Reuters.

"It will give us an ability to always ensure that we equate apples with apples via the consolidated lab method."

Saville said that the CEPI network would comprise, initially, six laboratories each in the Netherlands, Canada, England, Italy, Bangladesh and India.

Hundred of possibly COVID-19 vaccines in many phases of global production are now deployed in Russia and China until complete feasibility tests are completed and front runners are likely to be able to deliver final findings before year-end from Pfizer < PFE.N >, Moderna < MRNA.O > and Astrazeneca < AZN.L >

The immunogenicity of prospective vaccines is usually tested in individual laboratory analyzes to check whether immune response biomarkers, including anticuerposal and T cell responses, are generated after a dose, or doses, is obtained from the clinical trial volunteers.

Saville notes, though, that the multiple differing data collection and assessment approaches are a challenge with more than 320 COVID-19 vaccine applicants in the region.

There are inconsistencies in how and how samples are obtained, processed and preserved as well as possible changes in indicators of immunity. Both of this may have an effect on the accuracy and usefulness of the results generated and render consistency challenging.

And she notes that the traditional assessment of their true ability "is quite difficult" with a variety of vaccine technologies being studied-from viral vector vaccines to messenger RNA vaccines.

"We need a method to assess and equate the immune response of applicants undergoing tests with hundreds of COVID-19 vaccinations in the production phase ..." she added.

Through centralizing research in the laboratory network a great deal of what has been termed the 'interlaboratory heterogeneity' can be eliminated so that head-to - head comparisons are made feasible.

CEPI reports that all producers of new vaccines COVID-19 will use the unified laboratory network free of charge to test their candidates against a standard protocol.

The network is currently analyzing samples from the early-stage vaccine candidate research and from clinical trials in the first and second phase, however CEPI hoped to develop capability in the coming months on late-stage (Phase III).

Network reports are returned to the creator without CEPI or the data ownership of the network.

Nine of the future production vaccines COVID-19, including candidates from Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax < NVAX.O > and CureVac, was co-financed by CEPI itself.

(Kate Kelland 's article, Mark Potter's editing)