Serum Institute of India (SII) that is producing the Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine will start trials in India across selected research centres this week. The Oxford vaccine is one of the leading candidates in the race for an efficient and safe COVID-19 vaccine. This would make the Oxford vaccine the first to enter late stage trials in India. Two other COVID-19 vaccines, Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN and Zydus Cadila's ZyCoV-D are in early stages of trials.
The government had formed a coronavirus vaccine expert committee that held discussions on the distribution plans of the vaccine. The trials would be conducted across 10 centres at first, following which the country would set up more centres. Two of these centres are in Mumbai -- King Edward Memorial (KEM) and BYL Nair Hospitals.
"Each of the two hospitals will perform the trial on a group of 160 volunteers. These individuals have to be healthy, without any severe pre-medical ailments. They shouldn't be on any immunosuppressants or undergoing other lifetime treatment," said Suresh Kakani, additional commissioner, BMC.
The testing would be done as norms for randomised controlled trials. Around 1,600 volunteers would participate in the trials eventually. Only healthy volunteers with no COVID-19 history would be administered the doses. The trials would include people of 20-50 years of age. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is looking for volunteers as well. King George Memorial Hospital has dedicated two phone numbers -- 24133767 and 24174420 -- for people who want to ask about details regarding the trials.
The trials would be conducted to see whether the Oxford vaccine can elicit a good immune response with no side effects. The analysis would take around two months from the dosage. Volunteers would be provided the Oxford vaccine dosage spaced over two weeks.
The Oxford vaccine is undergoing Phase 2 and 3 trials in the UK, Phase 3 trials in Brazil and Phase 1 and 2 trials in South Africa. The COVID-19 vaccine would be priced at Rs 250-300 per dose.