Coronavirus vaccine: Oxford trials results by Nov-Dec; another Indian firm joins race

Coronavirus vaccine: Oxford trials results by Nov-Dec; another Indian firm joins race
COVID-19 vaccine update: Oxford trial results could be out by Nov-Dec

With experts stating that life can only get back to normal once a coronavirus vaccine is developed, citizens from across the world are waiting with bated breath. All eyes are on the top contenders but even the ones leading the race have faced their fair share of challenges. After the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine trial, Johnson and Johnson had to halt their vaccine trial after a participant fell in. However, as for all the trials being carried out in India, there has been no reports of any participant falling sick. Meanwhile, another company in India has joined the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan is also optimistic of more than one vaccine in India. “We’re expecting that early next year we should have vaccines in the country from maybe more than one source. Our expert groups are formulating strategies to plan on how to roll out the distribution of the vaccine in the country,” he said during a meeting with the Group of Ministers.

It must also be kept in mind that the number of doses is a key factor in vaccination. The fewer the number of doses, the faster the inoculation process would wrap up. India so far has only two-dose and three-dose vaccines. Oxford vaccine and Bharat Biotech’s candidate are two-dose vaccines, while Zydus Cadila’s is three-dose.

EPYGEN BIOTECH: Biopharma company with operations in Mumbai and Dubai is planning to launch a potential affordable coronavirus vaccine with an aim to roll out 500 million doses within six months. Epygen Biotech has tied up with US-based biotech firm Dyadic for the vaccine. The company helmed by CEO Debayan Ghosh has a capacity of producing around 20-40 million doses a month at present. Epygen is the latest company to join the likes of Bharat Biotech, Zydus Cadila and Serum Institute of India to join the race for a coronavirus vaccine.

OXFORD-ASTRAZENECA: The leading contender for vaccine could release the results of the trials conducted in India by November-end of early-December. In case that happens, the Oxford vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute would be available sooner than expected. Niti Aayog member Dr VK Paul said that the vaccine candidates are progressing well in clinical trials.

Both Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila are in the advanced Phase 2 trials. Their results are expected early November after which strategy for the next stage would be decided.

BHARAT BIOTECH: The company that is in the process of testing its coronavirus vaccine candidate Covaxin has sought approval from the drug regulator to proceed to Phase 3 of clinical trials. It has also written to states seeking permission for initiation of the third phase of clinical trials. Bharat Biotech has been asked to submit complete safety and immunogenicity data of the ongoing Phase-2 trial, apart from some clarifications, before proceeding for the next stage. The Covaxin trial would cover 28,500 subjects aged 18 years and above across 19 sites — including Delhi, Mumbai, Patna and Lucknow — in 10 states.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON: The company had to temporarily halt its COVID-19 vaccine trials because one of its participants fell sick. “We have temporarily paused further dosing in all our Covid-19 vaccine candidate clinical trials, including the  Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial, due to an unexplained illness in a study participant,” said Johnson & Johnson in a statement. The enrolment system has been closed for now and an independent committee to assess patient safety has convened. The J&J Phase 3 trial had started recruiting participants in late September, with a goal of enrolling up to 60,000 volunteers across more than 200 sites in the US and around the world.

Russia registers second coronavirus vaccine, says third on the way

President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that Russia has registered a second coronavirus vaccine, with a third one in the pipeline, the TASS news agency reported.

The registered vaccine, EpiVacCorona, was developed at a research centre in the Siberian city Novosibirsk, said Putin.

“As far as I know, we already have a third vaccine in development,” he added, which is currently being tested at the Chumakov research centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

In mid-August, Russia released the world’s first coronavirus vaccine approved for public use, Sputnik V. However, scientists worldwide have cast doubt on the vaccine, as it was registered before the results of phase 3 studies were made available.

Russian scientists defended the vaccine, which one of Putin’s daughters had volunteered to be given. They claim that the vaccine provides immunity and has no serious side effects.

Medical personnel and teachers are set to be inoculated before a massive vaccination campaign kicks off before the year’s end.

Putin’s announcement comes the same day Russia recorded more than 14,000 new infections, its highest-ever daily increase. In total, over 1.3 million infections have been recorded to date.