Coronavirus vaccine hunt : India to coordinate and monitor vaccines in late stages of development

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August 8, 2020 12:55 PM

Top scientists of the country along with specialists affiliated with government research institutes as well as Secretaries of four key central ministries- Commerce, Health, External Affairs and Finance together have been looking at various aspects and issues pertaining to administration of the potential vaccine.

SII has received approval from DCG to conduct Phase 2 and 3 human trials for the the Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine project.The committee will also decide the distribution of vaccines depending on priority groups.

COVID-19 vaccine: There are many vaccine candidates for the novel Coronavirus that are currently in advanced stages of clinical human trials. The companies for these vaccines have joined hands with many countries including India to administer vaccines. During such times, India will monitor these global developments closely through three different mechanisms. According to a report by The Indian Express, top scientists of the country along with specialists affiliated with government research institutes as well as Secretaries of four key central ministries- Commerce, Health, External Affairs and Finance together have been looking at various aspects and issues pertaining to administration of the potential vaccine.

The report said that this has been divided into two high-powered committees. The first is chaired by Principal Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr K VijayRaghavan and is looking after means to fast track the manufacturing of foriegn vaccines that are being tested in India after several agreements and development of homegrown vaccines. This implies that this committee is responsible for tracking the vaccine candidates that have been developed by Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila. Apart from this, the committee will also keep a tab on the second and third phases of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidate trials in India, the report said citing official sources.

Further, the second high powered committee is looking after the administration of these vaccines. The committee will be led by Dr V K Paul, Member, NITI Aayog along with Secretaries to the Ministries of Health, External Affairs, Commerce, and Finance. Also, top scientists associated with the Department of Biotechnology, and laboratories having the knowledge of virology/ vaccines (outside government institutions) will also be a part of this committee, the report said. To be sure, while administering the Coronavirus vaccines, the committee will be looking at stockpiling of the vaccines, once it becomes available. It will also check the quantum of vaccines and ensure the cold chain.

The report citing sources added that currently, the committee is also looking into provision of a cold chain for vaccines that are in advanced clinical trials among humans. It is to note that different vaccines require different temperatures to be stored, for example, the Moderna vaccine needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees. This, however, is not the case for vaccines developed by Bharat Biotech and Oxford.

The committee will also decide the distribution of vaccines depending on priority groups. While the two groups have been formed for COVID-19 vaccine roll out in India, the country is also contributing to the vaccine front via COVAX (a tripartite arrangement of WHO, CEPI and GAVI). The idea is to pool the demand for Coronavirus vaccines across countries and also share possible supplies from the nine COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the advanced stage of clinical trials. Through this mechanism, COVAX is aiming to meet 20 per cent of requirements for the majority of countries, barring advanced ones.

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