Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said India may not require Pfizer vaccine, which has attained 95 per cent efficacy during the interim analysis of limited COVID-19 trial participants. He said other ongoing vaccine trials in the country have shown promising results.
Earlier reports had emerged that the US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer was in talks with the Centre to sell its coronavirus vaccine candidate in the country. Recently, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech claimed that their mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine --BNT162b2-was also found to be more than 90 per cent effective in preventing coronavirus.
Vardhan said it made no sense to consider Pfizer as the pharma major is yet to get approval in the US. After the requisite approvals, the US pharma major will have to cater to needs of its own country's population first, he said.
Notably, India has five vaccine candidates in different stages of trials right now. Three of these five are in advance stages of 2/3 phase trials. Serum Institute of India (SII) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have already announced the completion of enrolment for phase 3 clinical trials of its Covishield vaccine. Covishield has been developed at the Serum Institute Pune laboratory with a master seed from Oxford University/AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca and Oxford University have also said their coronavirus vaccine candidate achieved up to 90 per cent efficacy during interim trial result analysis, and can even be stored at domestic fridge temperature.
The government is also keeping a close watch on the outcome of Russia's Sputnik and Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covidshield vaccine candidates. The interim efficacy data on both these vaccines is expected within a month. Dr Reddy's Laboratories and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) have also received approval from the Drug Control General of India (DCGI) to conduct the late-stage clinical trials for the Sputnik V vaccine in India.
Bharat Biotech-ICMR's vaccine candidate, Covaxin, has also started its phase-3 trials. Cadila Health's vaccine phase two clinical trials have also ended and are awaiting results before phase 3 rollout. Hyderabad-based Biological E's entered the race to develop vaccine recently and has started 1/2 phase clinical trials. The government is in talks with many homegrown as well as international pharma companies to cater to the vaccine demand to cover the 1.3 billion people.