Pharmaceutical companies across the world are engaged in a tight race to find coronavirus vaccine. As such Indian contenders are also speeding up the process. But if an Oxford University professor is to be believed, then there might not be much need for a vaccine. Professor Sunetra Gupta, believes that coronavirus might disappear on its own without the help of a vaccine. She also pointed out that coronavirus impacts mostly the high-risk cases. "What we've seen is that in normal, healthy people, who are not elderly or frail or don't have comorbidities, this virus is not something to worry about no more than how we worry about flu," she said. Meanwhile, closer home two companies have received approval to conduct trials for their coronavirus vaccine candidate.
Here are the latest developments from India and across the world:
Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN: Twelve hospitals have been chosen for COVAXIN trials in the country. Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN is undergoing quality and safety tests before the doses are administered to volunteers. AIIMS in Delhi, SRM Hospital and Research Centre in Kancheepuram and King George Hospital in Vishakhapatnam are awaiting ethics committee approvals to enrol volunteers, as mentioned in a report in The Indian Express. Some hospitals are awaiting site initiation visits and clearances for their facilities. Some hospitals would be able to enrol participants as early as this week. PGIMS, Rohtak, which is one of the 12 hospitals, has started the process of shortlisting candidates while awaiting for the COVID vaccines to arrive.
Meanwhile, the Clinical Trials Registry of India stated that July 13 would be the first enrollment date for the candidates. Phase I and II trials are estimated to take a year and three months, which is a far cry from ICMR's order to finish trials by August 15.
Serum Institute of India: SII that is in partnership with AstraZeneca for a COVID-19 vaccine believes that a vaccine is at least six months away. Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla said on Tuesday that the company is following due process to ensure safety and efficacy. "Once we are confident of a safe and good vaccine for India and the world. We will certainly announce it when we are licensed by the Drug Controller (DCGI), but that is still at least six months away from now," he added. SII and AstraZeneca would manufacture and supply the Oxford University vaccine. Under the pact the company would supply 1 billion doses in India and other low and middle-income countries. The vaccine is at an advanced stage of trial.
Zydus Cadila's ZyCoV-D: The other coronavirus vaccine candidate to get the nod from drug regulator is Zydus Cadila's ZyCoV-D. The vaccine is all set to start human trials this month. It will include 1,000 volunteers from across the country. The company expects to finish the trials in three months. If it advances to Phase 3 then it would take another three months, the company estimates. ZyCoV-D showed a strong immune response in animals.
Meanwhile, the government is working on a set of guidelines for companies working on a vaccine. "There is likely to be a guidance document for COVID vaccines in a couple of days issued by the Central Drug Standards and Control Organisation," said Secretary in the Department of Biotechnology Renu Swarup, as mentioned in Livemint.
Sinovac: Chinese company Sinovac, one of the frontrunners in the coronavirus vaccine race is starting Phase 3 of trials in Brazil. It is one of the three companies to move into the advanced stages of trials. The study will be done in partnership with Brazilian vaccine maker Instituto Butantan. Nearly 9,000 healthcare professionals would be part of the study.
Novavax: The US announced on Tuesday that it would provide $1.6 billion for the development of COVID-19 vaccine under Operation Warp Speed to Novavax. The company has agreed to deliver 100 million doses of its COVID vaccine by end of the year. "We are honored to partner with Operation Warp Speed to move our vaccine candidate forward with extraordinary urgency in the quest to provide vital protection to our nation's population," said Stanley Erck, Novavax CEO. The final stage Phase 3 trial is set to take place this fall.
Sanofi: Britain is closing on a deal of $624 million for 60 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline. The country is looking to buy the vaccine if it proves efficient during the human trials.
Moderna: The US-based company has started Phase 2 of clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine.
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