Covid-19 vaccine in India by October?

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Almost every day Indian media carry some positive news about the Covid vaccine and there is an impression that it is on the way and by winter it should be available in India. But is that true?

Some media reports in India suggest that a Covid-19 vaccine may become available in the market as early as October. How realistic are these hopes and how far are we actually from that coveted shot in the arm?

Currently, there are more than 115 potential Covid-19 vaccine candidates in different countries at various stages of development.

Even as the number of Covid-19 cases across the world crossed the 5 million-mark this week and the death toll rose to over 3.4 lakh, a successful vaccine to tame the deadly coronavirus remains elusive.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified 7-8 of these vaccines as frontrunners in research and trials.

Oxford University vaccine – the good news and the bad

The Oxford University vaccine has been named ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.To begin with, it was tested on rhesus macaque monkeys and showed promising results. But recently this potential vaccine suffered a setback. During the trial, the vaccine failed to prevent Covid-19 infection in monkeys.

However, the good news was the animals injected with this vaccine got Covid-19 infection but did not develop viral pneumonia, one the main reasons for severe complications and death. So according to experts, it was partially effective.

However, the Oxford University announced on May 22 that they are satisfied with the results and are now moving on to Phase 2 of the trial.

Moderna Inc vaccine – a novel approach to deal with coronavirus

Moderna Inc is an American biotechnology company that is developing the vaccine jointly with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Its vaccine under trial has been named mRNA-1273.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the USA has approved Moderna to initiate a Phase II clinical trial study, which will include 600 healthy volunteers.

Serum Institute of India

Adar Poonawala, the CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII), seems to be the man India is banking on to bring in a successful vaccine for Indians. SII is a global giant when it comes to producing vaccines. It produces 1.5 billion doses of 20 different vaccines which are exported to 165 different countries.

In fact, SII has already manufactured and stocked millions of doses of the Oxford University vaccine under trial so that if approved, it can be quickly brought to the market.

All the headlines one sees about SII promising a vaccine by October is about this stock of the Oxford University vaccine being manufactured in anticipation of approval. But there are many ifs and buts.

Other Indian Vaccine

Zydus Cadila from Ahmedabad is using the virus vector approach, along with developing a DNA platform vaccine. Then there is Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, which is working on ‘CoroFlu’, a one-drop nasal vaccine built on a pre-existing flu vaccine.

Biological E, Indian Immunologicals, Mynvax/Indian Institute of Science and Premas Biotech are other Indian companies working on Covid-19 vaccines. But till the time they cross at least Phase I of trial, it would be difficult to guess the prospects of these vaccines.

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