Trials of Hope: India may be the first to launch Covid-19 vaccine by August 15

Much ahead of the United States or the UK and the frontrunners in China, India may have the Covid-19 vaccine for public use, all probably with a big bang announcement around Independence Day on August 15, 2020.

According to different reports, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has set a deadline and asked Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, which has developed the indigenous vaccine, to fast-track the trials.

Other day, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has given go-ahead to Bharat Biotech India (BBIL) to conduct 1 and II phase human clinical trials for ‘Covaxin’ and the trials will begin anytime now.

It is learnt that the ICMR has written a letter to the company in this regard. “It is envisaged to launch the vaccine for public health use latest by 15th August 2020 after completion of all clinical trials. BBIL is working expeditiously to meet the target, however, final outcome will depend on the cooperation of all clinical trial sites involved in this project,” the letter says.

The vaccine candidate was in collaboration with the National Institute of Virology (NIV) which isolated a strain of the novel coronavirus from an asymptomatic patient.

Second vaccine to hit trials

The Drug Controller General of India has allowed Zydus Cadila to start Phase I and Phase II human clinical trials of its vaccine, the second indigenous vaccine in the country.

Besides Zydus Cadila, Indian companies like Serum Institute of India and Panacea Biotec are also in the advanced stages of vaccine development.

While Panacea is still in the pre-clinical stage, Serum has completed their preclinical studies.

Global Race

Being jointly developed by British-Swedish company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, the AZD1222 vaccine is the global front-runner. AstraZeneca has already started to mass-produce the vaccine candidate and plans to roll out up to two billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine in September.

US firm Moderna Inc is developing a vaccine using messenger RNA to produce viral proteins. Final-stage trials of the mRNA-1273 vaccine is set to begin next month on 30,000 people. They hope to make it available by early 2021.

Pfizer has collaborated with German company BNTECH and has started the process of dosing patients. The company hopes to roll out the vaccine by the end of October 2020.

Another much-awaited vaccine is being developed by Imperial College London based on self-amplifying RNA technology and over 300 healthy people have been immunised with two doses. They University hopes to distribute the vaccine by early next year.

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