India begins discussion on distribution of coronavirus vaccine, Indigenous candidates also in race

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | | Edited by Abhinav Sahay
Jul 21, 2020 06:45 PM IST

Indian government is hopeful that the indigenous vaccines candidates will also be in contention globally.

Indian government has said that it has already started to discuss the criteria and method for mass distribution of the coronavirus vaccine following reporting of encouraging results from human trials of international and indigenous vaccine candidates.

India’s two Coved 19 vaccines are in phase 1 and 2 of trials.(REUTERS Photo/Representative Use)
India’s two Coved 19 vaccines are in phase 1 and 2 of trials.(REUTERS Photo/Representative Use)

Even as several leading vaccine candidates across the world are in a race to produce the first reliable medical intervention to block the spread of coronavirus, Indian government has indicated that the country was in an advantageous position for two reasons—firstly because one of country’s leading vaccine maker has been enlisted for manufacturing Oxford University’s vaccine candidate that has shown encouraging results in stage two of human trials as was reported yesterday and secondly because two indigenous vaccines were also not far behind in the race to produce a credible product.

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“We seem to be reaching a good stage in vaccine development. It gives us hope. We also feel proud when we see our country among leading nations on this front. We also see promise, not just for our country but for the entire humanity,” said Dr VK Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog.

Also Read: Covid-19 pandemic: Wave of promising study results raises hopes for coronavirus vaccine

Oxford University’s Covid vaccine candidate called AZD1222 has started phase III of human trials and results so far have indicated that it has elicited antibody and T-cell immune responses without any serious side effects. The strongest response was seen in people who received two doses. The vaccine candidate’s co-producer AstraZeneca has also entered a deal with Pune-based Serum Institute of India to supply one billion doses for low-and-middle-Income countries, with first 400 million before the end of 2020.

Apart from this, India was also hopeful about the two indigenous vaccine candidates among the leaders around the world.

“India’s two Coved 19 vaccines are in phase 1 and 2 of trials. They are also progressing in this journey. Discussions have already begun how the vaccines will be made available to all those who need it. We will not leave any stone unturned,” Dr VK Paul added.

He added that this was not just good news for Indians but for the entire humanity as attempts are being made that the world has access to an Indian vaccine as early as possible.

“Every possible facilitation will be ensured making sure trials are conducted scientifically and ethically and that we arrive at an affordable option,” Dr VK Paul was quoted as saying by a news agency.

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Dr Paul was referring to Covaxin jointly developed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech and ZyCoV-D, a candidate from Zydus Cadila, that have entered the human trials stage and shown promising results so far.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, has begun recruitment of subjects for the continuous phase 1 and 2 trials for Covaxin. It is one of the 12 centres that will test the safety and immunogenicity-- the ability of a substance to provoke an immune response in the body-- of the vaccine candidate.

In the phase 1 trial, the vaccine will be given to a small number of people to see whether it is safe. In phase 2, the immune response it produces will be checked.

The other leading Indian company Zydus Cadila has said that it is looking to complete clinical trials of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate ZyCoV-D in seven months. The company had last week started clinical trials with the first human dosing.

AIMMS director Guleria said that several phases of vaccine development were being carried out simultaneously considering the abnormal situation.

“Normally, a vaccine takes about 10 years to develop. That is because the different phases of the trial are conducted one after the other after evaluation of the results. Even as the effectiveness of the vaccine is being studied, manufacturing capacity is also being built,” said Dr Guleria.

India is the third worst-affected country, with its Covid-19 tally reaching 11,55,191. India is among the biggest manufacturers of generic medicines and vaccines. Many Indian companies are engaged in making vaccines for various diseases like polio, meningitis, rotavirus, measles etc.

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