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Coronavirus vaccine update: How far along are India’s vaccine candidates | India News

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NEW DELHI: In another grim milestone, the number of active cases in the country crossed 8 lakh, having risen from the 7-lakh mark in 11 days. It had taken 15 days for active cases to rise from 6 lakh to 7 lakh. There has been a spurt in active cases in the past week in conjunction with the spike in fresh cases. India has the second biggest pool of active cases in the world after the US. Only three countries—US, Brazil and Russia—have a higher count of total cases than the number of active cases in India.
Here is all you need to know:
Covaxin in phase III trials
India’s first indigenous Covid-19 vaccine candidate is now in its Phase III trials. Trial’s principal investigator Dr E Venkata Rao said that there had been ‘no side effects’ in the first phase trial of the vaccine which was to ascertain how effective the vaccine was in terms of the level of antibodies developed.
The first dose was administered on Day Zero while the blood sample was collected. The second dose was given on Day 14 and the blood sample was also collected. Blood samples of the volunteers will also be collected on day 28, 42, 104, 194 for estimating the duration of protection subsequently.
The two other vaccine candidates in India are ZyCOV-D, which has been developed by Ahmedabad based Zydus Cadila and Oxford University’s AZD-1222 vaccine (which will be branded as Covishield). Covishield trials are being monitored by the Serum Institute of India.
US steps up vaccine efforts
Researchers across the US have stepped up efforts towards the development of an effective Covid-19 vaccine, as another vaccine candidate has started phase 3 clinical trial, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The multi-site clinical trial evaluating an investigational vaccine, known as AZD1222, will enrol approximately 30,000 adult volunteers at 80 sites in the US to evaluate if the candidate vaccine can prevent Covid-19, Xinhua news agency quoted the NIH as saying on Monday. The UK-based global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is leading the trial as a regulatory sponsor.
Last month, the NIH started controlled clinical trial of the antiviral remdesivir plus the immunomodulator interferon beta-1a in Covid-19 patients.
Another experimental Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the NIAID and American biotechnology company Moderna, known as mRNA-1273, started phase 3 clinical trial in July to evaluate if it can prevent Covid-19 in adults.
Russia & China vaccine face challenges
High-profile Covid-19 vaccines developed in Russia and China share a potential shortcoming: They are based on a common cold virus that many people have been exposed to, potentially limiting their effectiveness, some experts say.
CanSino Biologics’ 6185.HK vaccine, approved for military use in China, is a modified form of adenovirus type 5, or Ad5. Similarly, a vaccine developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, approved in Russia earlier this month despite limited testing, is based on Ad5 and a second less common adenovirus.
Anna Durbin, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins University said, “I’m not sure what their strategy is … maybe it won’t have 70% efficacy. It might have 40% efficacy, and that’s better than nothing until something else comes along.”
Super-cooled vaccine a challenge
Getting a coronavirus vaccine from manufacturing sites to parts of the developing world supply will be an immense challenge, given the need to store some vials at temperatures as low as minus 80 Celsius (-112 Fahrenheit), German logistics firm Deutsche Post warned on Tuesday.
Companies developing vaccines requiring exceptional cold storage, such as Moderna Inc and CureVac, are working to make their injections last longer in transit. The novel class of mRNA vaccines is among the furthest advanced in a field of 33 immunisation shots currently being tested on humans.
Upgrading cold storage infrastructure in regions outside the 25 most advanced countries, home to one-third of the global population, will pose an immense challenge, said Deutsche Post in its study, conducted with consultancy firm McKinsey.
Poor countries may be outbid by richer neighbours
Just seven months after the outbreak of the pandemic, and even before clinical trials of experimental vaccines have ended, some developed countries (the United States, Britain, the European Union, Canada and Japan) have put in orders for at least 3.1 billion doses, according to an AFP count.
An initiative named Covax and backed by WHO, as well as CEPI and the global vaccine alliance group Gavi, aims to buy and equitably distribute two billion doses in 2021. Ninety-two developing countries and 80 developed countries have signed on, and the European Union on Monday announced a contribution of 400 million euros. But the United States is refusing to join the effort.
Covax has only managed to secure 300 million doses to date from AstraZeneca, which has also signed separate partnership deals with the United States, Europe, Russia, South Korea, China, Latin America and Brazil.
The ideal goal for the WHO is that every country receives vaccinations for 20 per cent of its population, starting with the most vulnerable people no matter what their nationality, including health workers.
(With inputs from agencies)

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