The race to find an effective coronavirus vaccine has drawn encouraging results with researchers across the world and in India making significant strides. In what was seen as a positive breakthrough, a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University induced a strong immune response in over a thousand people who got the shot in early human trials. The preliminary findings were published on Monday in the Lancet medical journal.
The experimental vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (also called AZD1222), being designed by Oxford University and developed by Anglo-Swedish pharma major AstraZeneca, was administered to volunteers aged 18 to 55. Coronavirus has claimed over 6 lakh lives globally and has infected more than 1.45 crore (14.5 million). India, too, is on upward trajectory with its COVID-19 caseload over 11.5 lakh mark.
Here are the latest updates on COVID-19 vaccine in India and around the world: -
The clinical trials of Covaxin being indigenously developed in India are being conducted throughout the country. Phase 1 and 2, involving 1,800 volunteers will be conducted at 12 clinical sites across the nation, including AIIMS Patna and Delhi. The clinical trials first started in Post-Graduate Institute (PGI) of Medical Sciences in Rohtak on July 17, after which AIIMS Delhi conducted the trials on July 20. The latest trials will start on July 22 (Wednesday) at a Bhubaneswar-based institute, which is one of the 12 centres chosen by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The human trials will be carried out at a special laboratory set up by the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUN (IMS &SUM) Hospital, in compliance with the protocols set out by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), an official at the facility said. Covaxin is being developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR and the National Institute of Virology (NIV).
Serum Institute of India
Vaccine major Serum Institute of India's CEO Adar Poonawalla said on Monday the company will apply for COVID-19 vaccine trials within a week and will soon begin manufacturing the vaccine, developed by Oxford University, in large volumes. "The trials have shown promising results and we are extremely happy about it. We will be applying for licensure trials with the Indian regulator in a week's time. As soon as they grant us permission, we will begin with the trials for the vaccine in India. In addition, we will soon start manufacturing the vaccine in large volumes," said Poonawalla.
UK-based biopharma company AstraZeneca and Oxford University have chosen the Serum Institute to manufacture the vaccine once it is ready. Oxford scientists have said that they plan to begin human trials (of the vaccine) in India soon.
Poonawalla also told PTI that "we will start human trials in India in August 2020." He added that "based on the current situation and most recent updates on the clinical trials, we are hoping that the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine will be available towards the end of this year."
Drug firm Zydus Cadila has started clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, ZyCoV-D, with first human dosing. The company is looking to complete clinical trials of its vaccine candidate within seven months. Zydus had received approval from the national drug regulator to initiate human trials for its COVID-19 vaccine contender in early July.
Pharmaceutical and vaccine maker Panacea Biotec has associated with the US-based Refana Inc to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. The company aims to manufacture more than 500 million doses of the COVID-19 candidate vaccine, with over 40 million doses expected to be available for delivery early next year.
Indian startup Mynvax, which is backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is also working on experimental vaccines for the novel coronavirus. Mynvax has sought Rs 15 crore in funding from the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) to scale its trial process.
Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine
The vaccine, being designed and developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, has been found to be safe inducing a strong immune response within the body. This was announced by scientists on Monday following the first phase of "promising" human trials against COVID-19 that has infected over 1.45 crore (14.5 million) people and claimed more than 6 lakh lives across the world.
Doses of the vaccine were given to 1,077 healthy adults aged between 18 and 55 in five UK hospitals in April and May as part of phase one clinical trials and results, published in The Lancet medical journal. The results show they induced strong antibody and T-cell immune responses for up to 56 days. T-cells are crucial for maintaining protection against the virus for years. The findings are seen as promising, but experts feel it is too soon to know if this is enough to offer protection as larger trials get underway.
Sinovac Biotech - China
Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech is expected to conclude the last phase of its prospective COVID-19 vaccine before November this year, claiming that the experimental vaccine has proved to be "safe and effective" on humans so far.
US-based Moderna Inc
American pharma company Moderna Inc's COVID-19 vaccine candidate is currently conducting large-scale phase-II human clinical trials on hundreds of volunteers. In the two trial stages, the experimental vaccine reportedly prompted safe immune responses in healthy volunteers. The pharmaceutical firm's scientists, in the third stage of human trials expected to begin by the end of July, will administer the vaccine to 30,000 volunteers, which will be vaccine's most crucial phase of human clinical trials as of yet.