A coronavirus vaccine is likely to be ready by early 2021, according to a leading vaccine scientist. However, rolling it out for India's 1.3 billion people would be a challenge.
Gagandeep Kang, professor of microbiology at Christian Medical College in Vellore and member of the WHO's Global Advisory Committee has said that India is host to some of the frontrunners in the vaccine clinical trials. "By year-end we will have data that will tell us which vaccines are working and which ones are not going to do so well," said Kang to Bloomberg. She said that if India witnesses good results then vaccines are likely in small quantities in early 2021 and larger numbers in latter part.
Kang added that vaccines in Phase 3 trials have a 50 per cent chance of success.
The scientist added that India currently has no life cycle immunisation structures. "We have no way of vaccinating the elderly who are a particular risk group here. Just building the system to be able to immunize all ages is going to be a challenge," said Kang.
Kang said that even after a vaccine is ready, India would face storage and distribution challenges.
India is hosting clinical trials for major vaccine contenders including Oxford University-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine.
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan said that more than four candidates are in the advanced stages of pre-clinical trials. "One hundred and forty-five vaccine candidates across the world are under pre-clinical evaluation, around 35 under clinical trials. In India, we gave all support to 30 vaccine candidates - three of these are in advanced trials of phases 1, 2, and 3. Over four in advanced stages of the pre-clinical trial," Harsh Vardhan said.
Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila are two of the leading companies in the country to conduct trials in India, apart from Serum Institute for the Oxford candidate. The minister said that the health ministry received Rs 893.93 crore from PM-CARES Fund for 50,000 made in India ventilators.