Coronavirus vaccine trials: Why is Indian government pinning hopes on indegenous vaccines?

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November 18, 2020 3:54 PM

As many vaccines from global firms like Moderna and Pfizer have been reporting efficacy of over 90 per cent, all eyes are set for the launch of these vaccines in the market.

Some experts fear vaccines may not even meet the 50% efficacy threshold that the WHO has advised for vaccine candidates qualifying for use.Pfizer vaccine requires to be stored at minus 70 degrees unlike other vaccine candidates.

As many vaccines from global firms like Moderna and Pfizer have been reporting efficacy of over 90 per cent, all eyes are set for the launch of these vaccines in the market. However, it looks like Indians may not be able to make the most of it in the initial stages. According to a report by The IE, Indian government is pinning its hope on vaccines made in the country. The reason behind this is that while they are efficient against Coronavirus, they may not be available in quantities that can fulfill India’s requirements on an immediate basis. The report noted that despite India being in talks with these two global firms, so far no licence has been given for the commercialization of vaccines by any regulator.

Apart from this, it is likely if they are granted approval, the companies will first cater their vaccine doses to the countries who have already signed deals for these vaccines and chances are that these doses will arrive much later in India. Furthermore, the five vaccine candidates that are in later stages of clinical trials, according to the report, will be able to meet the demands and requirements of domestic audiences in India.

Meanwhile, with Pfizer vaccine, India may face challenges in scaling up its doses. It is to note that Pfizer vaccine requires to be stored at minus 70 degrees unlike other vaccine candidates. It will not be easy for India to develop a cold chain for one particular vaccine.

Dr V K Paul who is a member, NITI Aayog and is currently heading the high-level national expert group on vaccine administration, said that while India is monitoring the developments of the m-RNA vaccine developed by Moderna and Pfizer, they believe that the quantity will not be enough for Indians. Therefore, they are planning how many doses to procure if there is a requirement. However, with the current strategy the five vaccines being tested in India will be able to cater the country’s requirements.

As of now, Serum Institute of India has almost completed the last phase of human clinical trials and its follow-up is under way. Bharat Biotech, on the other hand, has begun the Phase-3 trials for Covaxin whereas Zydus Cadila has also completed the second phase of its vaccine trial. Other than these three, Dr Reddy in India will also begin phase 2/3 trials of Russian Sputnik -V vaccine and Biological E will also be conducting an early phase trial for COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

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