Flop Covid vaccine is axed for having 'inferior immune response'

An American drug manufacturer has scrapped its Covid vaccine after it produced an ‘inferior immune response’.

Merck has said it has stopped producing two of its prototype vaccines after initial trials suggested that while the drugs were safe, they did not provide enough of a protection from the virus.

The company, based in Kenilworth, New Jersey, said in a statement that their vaccines – known as V590 and V591 – were ‘generally well tolerated, but the immune responses were inferior to those seen following natural infection and those reported for other SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19 vaccines’.

Merck is one of several drugmakers worldwide that have put Covid vaccine candidates into clinical trials in the global race to produce a vaccine. So far in the US Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca have had effective vaccines approved for mass use.

While Merck has axed its vaccine candidates, the company has said it will keep working on two therapeutic drugs, including one that aims to protect the body’s respiratory system from Covid’s deadly effects. The company has already signed a deal with the U.S. government agreeing to supply up to 100,000 doses of one of those drugs at a cost of $356 million.

Dr Dean Li, president of Merk research, said: ‘We are grateful to our collaborators who worked with us on these vaccine candidates and to the volunteers in the trials.

‘We are resolute in our commitment to contribute to the global effort to relieve the burden of this pandemic on patients, health care systems and communities.’

Last year Merck successfully created a vaccine for Ebola which was approved by US regulators.

Since the pandemic began the US has recorded 25.1 million cases and 419,000 deaths.

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