India has the second-highest caseload of COVID-19 cases, globally.
While experts debate about the peak in infection growth, we are also seeing positive reports of a vaccine available for India every day, meaning that we are indeed inching closer to getting a COVID-19 vaccine ready.
Even though large-scale inoculation would take 2-4 years, medical experts have now said that we could see early doses of a vaccine ready to use by the middle of next year.
Dr Sanjay Rai, Head-Community Medicine Department, AIIMS, recently admitted that clinical trials are progressing in a good way in selected centres across the country, which would make it easier to get our hands on a vaccine by next year.
Without naming the vaccine prototype, Dr Rai admitted that phase II testing of one of the candidates is going on well, which involves 600 volunteers.
Currently, all of the vaccines being tested in India are in the mid-scale testing phase.
Speaking to ANI, Dr Rai said,
“Phase 2 clinical trial for COVID19 vaccine is underway in India with a good sample size of more than 600 motivated volunteers. Any vaccine will come by mid-next year, anywhere in the world, if everything goes as planned.”
Phase 2 clinical trial for #COVID19 vaccine is underway in India with a good sample size of more than 600 motivated… https://t.co/lE1CkpE2Ul— ANI (@ANI) 1600426619000
The news follows up Union Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan’s suggestion to test any vaccine on himself first to root away safety fears. Dr Harsh Vardhan also said that as and when a vaccine becomes available, priority access may be provided to essential workers first.
India has turned into a testing ground for a lot of global vaccine candidates. While Serum Institute of India is overseeing work on the Oxford-AstraZeneca novel vaccine, recent reports also revealed that a strategic deal has also been signed with American pharma maker, Novax to test and produce vaccine doses in the coming months.
Apart from this, Hyderabad based Dr Reddy’s Laboratories will be bringing the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in India soon. While the vaccine is still subject to phase III testing, it could be spearheaded for launch by the end of December or January, if DCGI approvals are met in time.
According to reports, the Russian Development Fund will be exporting a hundred million doses on priority basis to India soon.
The unique deal would also see India produce additional doses, in millions needed to fulfil the requirement in the first phase of inoculation.
What’s the status of Indian vaccines?
A lot of development is also being done on Indian vaccines. Covaxin, which headed to the second phase of trials early this month has shown encouraging results in early observatory data.
Dr Rai, who is also a principal investigator in the nationwide Covaxin trials earlier said that the promising positive data could push Covaxin into emergency authorisation, making it available as early as February 2021. In an early interview, he was quoted saying:
“Phase 1 trial has been successfully completed. Phase 2 trial is most likely to get completed sometime in October. After this, the Phase 3 trial will begin. Covaxin may be launched in early 2021 (after completion of all trial stages).”
Early results showcased that Covaxin was able to deliver immunogenicity response and spike antibodies in the host bodies, as expected. No adverse side-effects were recorded as well, which made experts believe that the Bharat BioTech vaccine is safe.
Another vaccine in the development process, namely, ZyCoV-D, developed by Zydus Cadila is also in the middle of mid-scale testing has also shown good results so far. Company spokespersons confirmed that the vaccine jab given to healthy volunteers as part of adaptive phase I/II tests were well-tolerated and did not show harmful ill-effects.