While Pfizer became the first company to release successful data from a large-scale trial -- over 90 per cent efficacy -- India's best bets are still the homegrown Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and the home-tested AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. These two vaccine candidates are at equally advanced stages of Phase 3 trials.
Unlike Pfizer, these two vaccine candidates are undergoing trials in India and will be available for the masses in the country as soon as tests are successfully completed, officials told The Economic Times. A government official told the daily that India will focus on these two vaccines as they are being tested on the Indian population and hence has a major advantage over other potential candidates.
Pfizer on Monday announced that its experimental vaccine has more than 90 per cent efficacy. Most of the initial doses have been reserved for US markets. Moreover, the distribution and storage of the vaccine could pose some logistical challenges as it requires to be stored in -70 degree Celsius.
Such challenges would not only disrupt distribution plans in countries like India but also in developed nations such as the US. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said the cold chain is going to be one of the most challenging aspects of this vaccination. "This will be a challenge in all settings because hospitals even in big cities do not have storage facilities for a vaccine at that ultra-low temperature," said the scholar.
Several coronavirus vaccine candidates are being developed around the world but AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is touted to the leading contender. The results of the trials are likely to be released before the year ends. This is a two-dose vaccine. Approval by regulators would be based on the efficacy and safety data from the trials.
Meanwhile, Bharat Biotech's candidate Covaxin is being developed along with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Preliminary results from the trials have shown that the vaccine is safe and effective.
There is another COVID-19 vaccine candidate that is racing towards the finish line -- Zydus Cadila's ZyCoV-D, which is expected to go under trials next month.