Bharat Biotech's coronavirus vaccine COVAXIN is expected to be launched by February 2021, months before the expected time. Last-stage trials of the indigenous vaccine are scheduled to start this month wherein more than 25,000 people are likely to be enrolled.
The Hyderabad-based company that has developed COVAXIN with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV), had hoped to roll it out in the second quarter of 2021. According to the senior ICMR scientist Rajni Kant who is also the member of its coronavirus task force, "The vaccine has shown good efficacy". Kant added it was the health ministry's prerogative to decide whether COVAXIN shots can be administered to people even before the third-phase of trials are over.
"It has shown safety and efficacy in the phase 1 and 2 trials and in the animal studies-so it is safe but you can't be 100 per cent sure unless the phase 3 trials are over," the senior scientist mentioned. The head of the ICMR's research management, policy, planning and coordination cell said that there may be some risk and the government can consider giving the vaccine in an emergency situation if necessary.
Meanwhile, Serum Institute of India (SII) chief Adar Poonawalla said that the coronavirus vaccine being developed jointly by Oxford University and AstraZeneca is likely to be available in January 2021. The vaccine which is branded as Covishield is currently undergoing phase 2 and 3 trials in India.