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COVID vaccine in India may be ready by the year-end, says Health Minister

The whole world is waiting with bated breath for a ‘safe and effective’ vaccine against novel coronavirus. At present, three vaccine candidates are at different phases of trial in India. Two homegrown vaccine candidates — Covaxin by Bharat Biotech and ZyCoV-D by Zydus Cadila have already started the phase II clinical trial. Another vaccine candidate, Covishield, developed by the University of Oxford has recently commenced the phase II clinical trial in India. Vaccine maker AstraZeneca has signed a deal with Serum Institute of India to manufacture Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate for India and low-income countries.
When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available in India? Answering to this question Union health and family welfare minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that a vaccine might be ready by the end of this year.

“We are not lagging behind anyone else in the whole world in our efforts to contribute towards the vaccine against COVID… In India we have about 7-8 vaccine candidates, three of them in the clinical trial phases and rest in the pre- clinical trials and by the end of this year we hope to be able to get a vaccine against COVID,” he said.

Here are key updates of India’s COVID-19 vaccine journey

Covaxin, India’s first coronavirus vaccine has been developed by Bharat Biotech developed by Bharat BioTech, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV). The clinical trial to verify the safety of potential COVID-19 vaccine has started in August.

“There had been ‘no side effects’ in the phase I trial of Covaxin,” Dr E Venkata Rao, principal investigator of the trial at Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, faculty of medical sciences, said.

ZyCoV-D, developed by Zydus Cadila began its phase II clinical trials from August 6. “The company reports that the doses of the vaccine administered to healthy volunteers in the phase I clinical trial, which began on July 15, 2020, has been well tolerated,” Cadila Healthcare said.

“All the subjects in phase I clinical trial were closely monitored in a clinical pharmacological unit for 24 hours post dosing for safety and for 7 days thereafter and the vaccine was found to be very safe,” Zydus Cadila Chairman Pankaj R Patel said.

Pune based drugmaker Serum Institute of India recently commenced the advance clinical trial of vaccine made by the University of Oxford. The vaccine maker has selected 17 sites across the country for the trial. Around 1,600 people between the age of 18 and 25 will be enrolled for the clinical trial.

“The volunteers do not have any pain, fever, injection-side reaction or systemic illness post-vaccination,”Dr Jitendra Oswal, deputy medical director, Bharti Vidyapeeth’s Medical College and Hospital in Pune said. – Livemint