India's COVID-19 vaccines: What are the latest updates?
In the race to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), two pharma companies are leading the way from India - Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila. They both have begun clinical human trials with their respective shots and are moving progressively to make them available in the market as soon as possible. Here are the latest updates from them.
Speaking to Reuters, Pankaj Patel, the Chairman of Zydus Cadila, confirmed that they expect to complete the clinical human trials of their experimental shot, ZyCoV-D, by February or March 2021. "We are looking at about seven or a little more than seven months for the vaccine, provided the data is encouraging and the vaccine is proven to be effective during the trials," he noted.
Even when fast-tracked, clinical vaccine trials take place over three phases to establish the safety and efficacy of the shot in question. Zydus Cadila's Phase 1, 2 study began earlier this week and will be completed over the next three months, Patel said. After that, the final trial involving a larger batch of volunteers will begin, lining the vaccine for review and approvals.
If the results are promising, Patel said, Zydus will be able to produce 100 million doses of the vaccine a year, to begin with. He also indicated that the company may partner with pharmaceutical companies in other geographies but emphasized that "it is a bit premature right now, and we will be doing so at the end of Phase 1 and 2 trials."
Like Zydus, Bharat Biotech is also moving ahead with Phase 1, 2 human trials of its COVAXIN vaccine candidate. The shot, developed in conjunction with National Institute of Virology, has been given to the first volunteers at Rohtak's Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences. Now, this study will be expanded, with more people getting the shot in Rohtak and at 11 other sites across India.
Human trial with Corona vaccine (COVAXIN) of Bharat Biotech started at PGI Rohtak today. Three subjects were enrolled today. All have tolerated the vaccine very well. There were no adverse efforts.— ANIL VIJ MINISTER HARYANA (@anilvijminister) July 17, 2020
Even as the government-backed human trial progresses, there is no word on the availability of COVAXIN candidate yet. Indian Council of Medical Research had previously said that it aims to complete the trials and make the vaccine available for public use by August 15, but Dr. Krishna Ella, the founder of Bharat Biotech, believes it is too early to announce a launch date.